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Welfare’s role in alternative to abortion programs

When Brandi David found herself unexpectedly pregnant, she turned to Women's Care Center for help. Caitlin Esch/Marketplace

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This August will present a milestone: 20 years since welfare reform. The federal government overhauled the cash assistance program for poor families, replacing it with a new system called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF.

Among the biggest changes, states now control their welfare spending out of a set amount received from the federal government each year. 

Krissy Clark from our Wealth and Poverty Desk has been on a road trip of sorts for our new podcast, the Uncertain Hour, to see just how states across the country use their welfare block grants.

Today’s stop is Indiana. In 2015, Governor Mike Pence authorized $3.5 million in federal TANF funds for the support of crisis pregnancy centers. These organizations provide information and services like free ultrasounds and counseling to pregnant women. 

Brandi David, 26, had seen a billboard hundreds of times in her life, a picture of a concerned-looking woman over a bright pink background that read, “Pregnant? We Can Help.” One day about two years ago, she found herself pregnant and looking for help, and called the number listed. Brandi was seeking an abortion, but did not know until she was inside the organization that advertised by the highway  Women’s Care Center  that she would neither get much information or a referral there. 

To hear the full story, including a tour of Women’s Care Center and the story of a woman seeking help who decided to keep her child, listen to The Uncertain Hour

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