A nonprofit organization headquartered in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Real Alternatives provides free supportive services to assist new and expectant mothers. Striving to help women find life-affirming alternatives to abortion, Real Alternatives has received statewide recognition for its innovative approach to social services.
In 2004, the Central Pennsylvania Business Journal recognized Real Alternatives as a finalist in its annual Nonprofit Innovation Award program. Featured in the Operations/Technology category of the yearly recognition program, the nonprofit earned recognition for its proprietary Automated Program Outcomes Measure tool. This process allows the organization to track the results of its counseling services, ensuring that each woman who accesses these services benefits from the organization’s approach to crisis pregnancy support.
Using its Automated Program Outcome Measure tool, Real Alternatives is able to assess how its counseling services impact the parenting skills, adoption education, reproductive health, support network, and child birth decisions of expectant mothers. In this way, it can more easily hold its partner service providers accountable and implement data-based program improvements.
At the time of its status as a Nonprofit Innovation Award finalists, the organization was monitoring the outcomes of more than 16,000 women receiving services at some 125 centers. Since then, it has expanded its offerings to both Indiana and Michigan.
A nonprofit organization that provides human support services throughout Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Michigan, Real Alternatives maintains a pro-life mission and assists women in navigating unplanned pregnancies. Real Alternatives’ unique approach utilizes service providers and a network of existing community agencies.
In Pennsylvania alone, a 95-strong service provider center network encompasses pregnancy support centers, maternity homes, social services providers, and adoption agencies. The steps involved in becoming part of the quality-focused network are stringent and include a host of preliminary documentation that includes verified 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit status, a pro-life mission, and at least one year of experience in offering abortion service alternatives.
Among the other requirements, providers cannot charge eligible clients a fee and cannot discriminate. They agree that all eligible clients will be served, regardless of their English proficiency level. Once the preliminary requirements are met, further documentation, such as Corporate Articles of Incorporation, are submitted and a further review of a potential service provider’s capacity to fulfill the overarching mandate is performed.
After review of corporation documents, a site inspection occurs to ensure clients will be served in a safe and comfortable office.
Operating in Indiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, Real Alternatives provides expectant mothers with helpful resources and pregnancy support. The Real Alternatives website helps visitors understand sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) and points to chlamydia as the most common STD in the United States.
According to a 2015 report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chlamydia affects approximately 1.5 million people every year. A bacterial STD, chlamydia affects both men and women and is often symptomless. However, if left untreated, it can cause a burning sensation during urination and abnormal genital discharge in both genders. Further, women may experience pelvic inflammatory disease, which is a leading cause of infertility and ectopic pregnancies.
Happily, chlamydia can usually be completely cured through a program of antibiotics. The most common antibiotics for chlamydia treatment are doxycycline and azithromycin. When treated with azithromycin patients take a one time dose of 1000 mg whereas those treated with doxycycline complete a course of treatment that requires taking 100 mg twice a day for one week. Sexual partners should also be treated to prevent reinfection. Doxycycline should not be taken during pregnancy but azithromycin is safe during pregnancy.
Real Alternatives has served more than 275,000 women seeking assistance with crisis pregnancy, adoption, and maternal health support. As part of its regular services, Real Alternatives encourages families and friends of expectant mothers to provide support in cases of unexpected pregnancies.
It is often difficult and even frightening for women when they experience an unexpected pregnancy, but they do not have to make the journey alone. Friends and family are some of the most important support a woman has. These parties often do not know how they can assist her, but there are a number of ways they can help a loved one navigate her unanticipated pregnancy.
The best thing a mother, partner, or friend can do for the expectant mother is to be there for her. A friend should offer to drive her to her appointments or help her locate her local pregnancy support centers. Family members can assist by providing emotional reassurance that she is not alone and together she can have a bright future.
Unexpected pregnancies are also challenging to the partner of the mother, who may also need support. However, it is equally important that the partner focus on listening to her and preserving her well-being. They can do this in a number of ways, from assuming more household responsibility to ensuring that she has ample opportunities to relax and be healthy.
A nonprofit organization serving the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Indiana, Real Alternatives encourages childbirth instead of abortion and provides a range of support services to assist women during pregnancy, delivery, and beyond. Through its pregnancy and parenting support programs, Real Alternatives has helped prevent newborn health issues and reduce abortion rates in the states it has served since 1996.
In 2013, Pennsylvania and 11 other states saw record low abortion rates. The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported that the number of resident abortions performed in Pennsylvania in 2013 dropped by 7.39% to 30,749 from the previous year.
That same year, a total of 19,956 women were served at the 96 Real Alternatives funded pregnancy centers, social services agencies and maternity homes for the year. An 8% increase from the previous year. Of those, 15,973 women received services for the first time under the program in calendar year 2013.
Pennsylvania is seeing abortion numbers that are approximately 50 percent less than they were in 1980, when the abortion rate was at a record high.
The significant decrease in abortions in Pennsylvania can be attributed to several factors, including the state’s Abortion Control Act and the development of new technology that makes it easier for parents to clearly see their baby in the womb. Another major factor is Pennsylvania’s Alternatives to Abortion program.
Administered by Real Alternatives, the program provides confidential services, including pregnancy tests, counseling, and housing, through 96 providers all over the state. By offering these and many other services for free, the Alternatives to Abortion program provides women with the guidance, encouragement, and support needed to maintain their health and that of their babies.
Launched in 1996 through a state-sponsored initiative to lower abortion rates, Real Alternatives originally served women through 72 centers across Pennsylvania.