Re: Ingrid Jacques' July 23 column, "Dems target pregnancy support centers": Empowering women means trusting them to make their own decisions, plain and simple.

While there are organizations that do support women by giving them medically accurate information in order to make their own reproductive health decisions, Real Alternatives is not at all what it claims.

Just like any other kind of health care, reproductive health decisions should be made by a woman in consultation with a doctor, who can advise based on their best medical judgment. Unfortunately, this so-called pregnancy crisis center seeks to persuade and convince women not to have an abortion even when the pregnancy could potentially jeopardize their mental and physical health.

While the organization claims to serve Detroit’s most vulnerable residents, Real Alternatives uses our taxpayer dollars in a model much like that of big insurance companies. This means many women are still left without access to the affordable and quality health services they need.

Not only that, there is little or no transparency as to how or where services are being paid for women who are served, and no accountability to meet benchmarks set by the state of Michigan.

Since 2013, conservative right-wing advocates’ attempts to interfere with women’s reproductive health care via Pennsylvania-based Real Alternatives has resulted in the center receiving nearly $2.6 million in Michigan taxpayer dollars.

In Pennsylvania, Real Alternatives was skimming 3% of tax dollars collected for their bottom line; money that was supposed to be used to pay workers.

Real Alternatives is also not the answer to Detroit’s astounding infant mortality rates. In fact, they’ve been caught peddling junk science to clients, even going as far as claiming that abortion causes breast cancer, despite an entire body of medical literature debunking this.

Real Alternatives is a sad alternative to concrete, reputable and established family planning services that offer a wide array of health services for women of all backgrounds and income levels based on sound medical science.

Considering all these facts, we previously attempted to block funding for Real Alternatives by offering amendments to the state budget that would have defunded them; however, the legislation was defeated by the Republican-controlled legislature that insists on continuing to fund a program with no accountability, little transparency and a mission to push an anti-choice agenda under the guise of providing health care to communities.

If we truly want to stand with black women and all women of Detroit, we should instead make sure everyone has access to affordable, quality health care and services that empower women to make reproductive decisions based on their personal beliefs and unique medical situations.

The fight is not yet over. Make no mistake: We will continue to stand by our efforts not because of political ideology, but because it’s important that we uphold one of the oaths we made to Michigan residents as your state senators: to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

Sen. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor 

Sen. Adam Hollier, D-Detroit 

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