Baptist charity pulls grant from clinic that distributes the morning-after pill
ROME, GEORGIA, April 17, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – A 100-year-old Baptist health ministry in Georgia has withdrawn a $42,000 grant from a clinic that dispenses the morning-after pill – but a clinic spokeswoman says she is keeping the money already given.
Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry awarded the funds to the Women’s Organization for Reproductive and Total Health-care (WORTH) clinic of Rome, Georgia, to support its cervical cancer screenings, with the goal of doubling its 600 patient load.
However, an unidentified minister alerted the ministry that the facility distributes the morning-after pill.
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Local media report that representatives of Women of WORTH had told the ministry it did not perform abortions during the grant process.
Will Bacon, the ministry’s vice president of development, sent the clinic a letter last Tuesday asking for the funds to be returned. But Women of WORTH executive director Marilyn Ringstaff has said she will not comply.
“We have no intention of giving a dime back,” she said, according to the city’s newspaper. “They are going to have to file suit to get it.”
She stated the morning-after pill is not an abortifacient but is simply a form of birth control – with a 10 percent failure rate.
“It’s just like any other birth control. It prevents ovulation and fertilization,” she said. “It’s not RU-486, but they still believe it is.”
Upon learning of the grant termination, Ringstaff was disappointed, saying, “We thought this would be an ongoing relationship.”
The stand-off shadows the dispute between the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation and Planned Parenthood earlier this year, and the broader debate over taxpayer subsidies for the billion-dollar industry.
Funding abortion would be at odds with the Baptist charity’s history and faith.
According to its most recent annual report, GBHCM assigns all grants with “reverence for the dignity of each person,” based on “Christian life and family values.”
Many of its expenditures have underwritten alternatives to abortion, such as crisis pregnancy centers. This year alone the group has donated $26,147 to The Living Vine, a Christian maternity home in Savannah, for its crisis pregnancy services; $30,000 to the North Georgia Crisis Pregnancy Center to purchase an ultrasound machine; $39,000 to Life Resources of Georgia to advance crisis pregnancy education for girls in middle and high school; $28,128 to South Georgia Ministries in Tipton to provide transportation for women with crisis pregnancies; $11,000 to Coweta Pregnancy Services for new equipment; and $10,000 to Fayette Pregnancy Resource to purchase ultrasound equipment.
It also made grants to combat breast cancer and substance abuse among women, to help special needs and sexually exploited children, and to shelter the homeless. It awarded a total of $2.4 million in grants in 2012.
After the Rome News-Tribune reported that the Christian charity asked that its check be returned, the womens studies department at Berry College donated $250 to the clinic.
A spokesperson at Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry refused to comment on any of its work to LifeSiteNews.com.