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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 4:34 pm

Details of pregnancy center contract released

Niki Kelly | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS - Seventy percent of a $3.5 million no-bid contract will go to direct services to help pregnant Hoosiers and moms who chose not to have an abortion.

The rest of the money will go to administrative and other expenses under an agreement with pro-life group Real Alternatives, Inc. based in Pennsylvania.

The contract was announced by Gov. Mike Pence Oct. 12 but wasn't made public until Nov. 5. It follows a secretive one-year pilot in northern Indiana.

"People expect bids to be put out fairly," said House Democrat Leader Scott Pelath. "Take the issue away from it. They don't like the idea of somebody having an inside track and the ability to make money just because they happen to be somebody's pal. It's problematic just on those grounds.

"The people of Indiana are tired of these ideologically driven decisions."

Under the contract, Real Alternatives essentially acts as a middle-man - signing up 17-30 service providers in cities around the state to "enable pregnant women in Indiana to maintain pregnancy and achieve positive healthy pregnancy outcomes through provision of pregnancy support services and referrals to care."

Pence has long opposed funding for Planned Parenthood, a group that provides women's health services including abortions.

Real Alternatives is a nonprofit that receives taxpayer funding to provide pregnancy support services in Pennsylvania, Michigan and now Indiana. To participate, the service providers must have a pro-life mission. The funding also can't cover contraceptives.

The newly-released contract calls for $313,000 in administrative expenses, including $58,000 in salary for the president and CEO of the company - Kevin Bagatta.

About $2.4 million is set for direct client services. 

It also requires the group to provide a number of statistics, including the number of pregnant women, non-pregnant women and parenting women served by county, age, race and ethnicity.

Some of the services provided through visits are parenting classes; pregnancy classes; clothing, food, furniture; information on adoption; and housing and medical referrals.

"This program in turn will have a lowering impact on the Indiana Abortion Choice Percentage, and be a factor in reducing medical costs, improving women’s health, and obtaining overall long-term savings for the taxpayers of Indiana," according to the contract.

Indiana's Abortion Choice Percentage represents the percentage of women who chose to undergo abortions out of the total population of women who could. It was 10 percent in 2008 and since has dropped to 9 percent in 2013.

Indiana Right to Life representatives declined an interview - referring to a written press release statement.

"Real Alternatives offers life-affirming and compassionate care to women throughout pregnancy and as they begin their parenting journey," said Mike Fichter, President and CEO of Indiana Right to Life. "We have seen positive results from one year of Real Alternatives in Northern Indiana, and we look forward to seeing what the statewide impact of Real Alternatives will look like."

Fichter is the registered agent on file with the Indiana Secretary of State's Office for Real Alternatives, Inc. It is not clear if he is benefiting personally from the contract.

nkelly@jg.net