The Arizona legislature voted Wednesday to advance a bill that would provide $7.5 million to crisis pregnancy centers over the next three years as part of an effort to reduce abortions in the state.
The bill, which was co-sponsored by the entire Republican caucus, passed the appropriations committee in both chambers of the legislature on Wednesday along party lines and will now move to the floor for a full vote, according to Arizona Central.
If passed, the bill would require the state’s Department of Health to “implement a statewide system to provide direct services, support services, social services case management and referrals to the biological or adoptive parents of children under two years of age, including unborn children.”
Republican representative Michelle Udall, the bill’s main sponsor, urged her colleagues to prove their commitment to life by backing the legislation.
“$7.5 million over three years to help save these lives is a small price to pay,” she said during a Wednesday hearing.
Arizona democrats and allied progressive groups have criticized Udall and her fellow Republicans for empowering crisis pregnancy centers, which they claim prioritize ideological concerns over the health of their patients.
Crisis pregnancy centers “are often run by organizations with a particular social agenda. More importantly, they do not inform women about all their options, and instead steer them toward one decision,” Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona executive director Jodi Liggett told Arizona Central.
The Center for Arizona Policy supports the bill and has spoken with legislators about funding the pilot program.
“The pilot is modeled after a successful program in Texas that has reached pregnant women and informed them of available services,” the group’s Cathi Herrod said. “Results have been positive as far as women choosing to have the child.”