Money for God

The government is spending big money to talk you out of having an abortion.

Last time we checked, abortion was still legal in Ohio. But thanks to a recent cash infusion from the feds, groups who want to outlaw it are getting flush on your dime. Take Pregnancy Decision Health Centers, a Columbus Christian group that promotes "responsible sexual values and alternatives to abortion." According to its website, the group has helped 3,000 "abortion-vulnerable" women choose not to have the surgery. And the organization is growing.

Between 2000 and 2004, its government funding leaped from $81,000 to $467,000. All this money is earmarked for abstinence-until-marriage education. But it also provides a third of the agency's income. That means you, dear reader, are helping keep the group afloat.

Then there's Elizabeth's New Life Center in Dayton. Its "vision statement" -- which is code for "stuff we figure on doing" -- promises to "humbly labor in the culture of life where chastity is the norm and abortion unthinkable." Among other services, the organization runs support groups for women "who regret an abortion decision."

In 2002, the New Life Center received a three-year, $2.2 million government grant for abstinence education. The grant was renewed last year.

All this money has raised red flags for pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood, the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, and NARAL Pro Choice Ohio. They've asked the director of the Ohio Health Department to make sure that taxpayer money isn't being used for religious teaching and anti-abortion lobbying. After all, isn't there something in the Constitution about the separation of church and state?

Says Earl Pike, executive director of the AIDS Taskforce: "It's really hard to look at their materials without seeing overt religious messages all over the place."