A recently formed pro-life network is preparing to administer the inaugural $2 million budget of Kansas’ newly created state-backed “Alternatives to Abortion” program.
The state treasurer’s office said in a press release last week that “a Kansas-based nonprofit has been selected to administer the Alternatives to Abortion program” enacted by the state Legislature earlier in the year.
The Kansas Pregnancy Care Network (KPCN) “was selected from the three eligible bids that were submitted to the Department of Administration,” the office said, noting the group “was the only Kansas-based entity that submitted a qualified bid.”
Tim Huelskamp, the president of the board of directors of KPCN, told CNA the group is “fairly new.”
The subject is somewhat personal for Huelskamp, he admitted: He himself has four adopted children and hopes the program will help more women choose life for their unborn babies.
He said the program is “a social service with a material component” that helps pregnant women and mothers access food, diapers, counseling, and other nonmedical resources, he said. There is “no medical component” to the program, he added.
As the nucleus of the Alternatives to Abortion program began to form in the Legislature, Huelskamp said, “a number of folks were looking around and asking who was going to run the nonprofit.”
“I looked around and didn’t see anyone who was going to put in a bid, so we put together a board of directors,” he said.
The initiative came together very quickly, Huelskamp said.
“Basically, we started in May, had it put together in June, the [request for proposal] came out in July, it closed in August, and the contract was signed and executed last week.”
Huelskamp has been active in pro-life politics for years. He said every member of the group’s board “has a long history of pro-life activism, with pregnancy resource centers [and] legislative efforts.”
The state will distribute public funding in quarterly installments to KPCN, after which the directors will distribute the money to qualified subcontractors carrying out pro-life work.
“We use a system by which we certify and make sure each of the organizations are pro-life,” he said. “They can’t participate if they’re not pro-life.”
“The most prevalent [services] are counseling, education, and material assistance,” he said. “They’ll provide us reports and invoices based on the amount of hours and minutes they’re providing their clients, and we’ll provide funds that support those efforts.”
Huelskamp said the group expects to have up to 60 subcontractors using the funds to advance the plan’s goals.
He said the program is based heavily on Texas’s Alternatives to Abortion plan; the Kansas program incorporates numerous elements of that plan into its own framework, including confidentiality and conscience protections.
“Plenty of faith-based organizations are concerned about taking government money for fear they can’t share the Gospel; they might be required to adopt policies that are inconsistent with their religious beliefs,” he said.
“But the [program] subcontract says if you provide abortion, you cannot participate. That’s in the language, that helps avoid that problem.”
Texas’ own program was created during the state’s 2006-2007 legislative year. Its budget has expanded to just over $100 million during the last fiscal year, according to the state health and human service department’s most recent filing.
Texas’s pregnancy care organization last year utilized “a statewide network of 80 subcontractors with a total of 169 physical locations and 10 mobile units throughout Texas,” according to that report.
The state’s four “A2A service providers” last year offered “counseling, mentoring, educational information, classes, material goods, care coordination, and support services,” the state said.
“We thank the Legislature for stepping up and working alongside the pregnancy resource centers,” he said.
To the dozens of subcontractors with which his group plans to partner, Huelskamp said: “You’re doing great work; let’s have more of it.”
“We’re really excited,” he added.