When Taylor Merendo moved to Bloomington, Ind., nearly two years ago, fleeing an abusive marriage, she needed help.
“I was six months pregnant and, at that point in time, I really didn’t have a stable place to live,” Merendo said.
That’s where the Hannah Center in Bloomington stepped in. It’s what’s known as a crisis pregnancy center, where women are counseled against abortion and often get support after their babies are born.
Many low-income women come in believing they need to have an abortion, says Executive Director Tina Tuley-Lampke, and she tries to persuade them otherwise.
“Because for many women it’s not truly a choice when they feel like they don’t have any other options,” she said.
Women’s health has been the center of a lot of controversy in the ongoing health care debate, and much has focused on federal funding for Planned Parenthood. While federal funding for abortion is already illegal in most cases, many abortion-rights opponents also want to permanently block Planned Parenthood from receiving federal reimbursement for providing services like contraception.
As it turns out, many crisis pregnancy centers like the Hannah Center, alternatively known as pregnancy resource centers, also rely on Medicaid as a tool for helping low-income pregnant women.
The nonprofit organization housed Merendo for about a year in its maternity home and helped her apply for Medicaid in Indiana. Low-income pregnant women qualify in every state, though exact income requirements vary by state.
Now 21, Merendo is caring for her 19-month-old son and training to become a nursing assistant. She said she never wanted an abortion, but she couldn’t have afforded her prenatal visits, let alone the delivery, on her own.
“If Medicaid wouldn’t have paid for it, it would have been thousands of…