Equity Forward In Court to Demand Transparency From State-Funded Anti-Abortion Organization

Real Alternatives diverts funds to anti-abortion centers, has history of misusing taxpayer dollars in Pennsylvania, Michigan

03.11.19 – Equity Forward will be in court tomorrow demanding Pennsylvania government officials release records held by Real Alternatives, an anti-abortion state contractor that has a documented history of siphoning money from taxpayers in Pennsylvania and is under scrutiny in Michigan for similar malfeasance.    

Equity Forward estimates Real Alternatives has siphoned upwards of $3.1 million taxpayer dollars in Pennsylvania alone to expand its operations into other states.  

“Real Alternatives has a long history of misusing taxpayers funds and Equity Forward is going to court to demand transparency from the anti-abortion organization,” said Mary Alice Carter, Executive Director of Equity Forward.  

“We can all agree that taxpayers have a right to know where their tax dollars are going, yet Real Alternatives has made a habit of not only hiding details about how it’s spending money, but also siphoning money from Pennsylvanians to expand its anti-abortion mission in other states. This is simply unacceptable. Equity Forward will continue to demand transparency from Real Alternatives and the state of Pennsylvania.”

Since 2012, Real Alternatives has been granted $45.2 million in Pennsylvania state taxpayer funds to administer the state’s “Alternatives to Abortion” program, which distributes money to anti-abortion centers. In 2017, Real Alternatives was the target of a scathing auditor general’s (DAG’s) report, which found that the organization had been siphoning taxpayer money in an “egregious violation” of its grant agreement with the state — money that the Department of Human Services later said the group remarkably did not have to repay to the people of Pennsylvania. Notably, Real Alternatives is also subject to a legal complaint from another watchdog organization in Michigan.  

Equity Forward’s suit demands additional information — from both Real Alternatives as well as the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services — to determine the extent of Real Alternatives’ financial malfeasance. DHS denied Equity Forward’s first request for records in November 2017; Equity Forward then appealed that ruling to the Office of Open Records, which was similarly denied in January 2018, and the case now sits before the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.  

Tomorrow’s hearing also falls during Sunshine Week, the news industry’s celebration of the importance of access to public information. Equity Forward issued a new report earlier today in light of Sunshine Week which details information that was only uncovered through the watchdog group’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and subsequent lawsuits.