As the South Cracks Down on Abortion Access, Tax Dollars Flow to Fake Clinics

The Constitution right to an abortion has been revoked by the U.S. Supreme Court. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization According to the report, at least 66 clinics across 15 states had stopped offering abortions by June. Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization for reproductive rights. Eight states have had 22 closed clinics in the South.

As options for abortion care shrink, pregnant people may encounter so-called “crisis pregnancy centers,” or CPCs: anti-abortion organizations that have proliferated in recent years.

These organizations are often referred to as health centers and offer services such as pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. However, they do not have any doctors on staff. They are often supported by religious groups and aim to dissuade women from having abortions, to peddle potentially dangerous misinformation regarding abortion and contraception, as well as to harass patients after visits with antiabortion messages. Dr. Anna Lowell, a Florida family physician and a member the The Lowell Group, said that they even hound patients with antiabortion messages. Reproductive Health Access Project, which works in partnership with primary care physicians to ensure equal access to reproductive and sexual health care.

“What concerns me is a lot of patients that seek abortion services, the ones that are going to be impacted the most after this Dobbs decision, are folks with low income, folks who have been already marginalized due to health care in general,” Lowell said. “They might be lured into these centers because they offer a lot of free services. If they are already in a position of financial hardship, they might end up at one of these centers before getting to a clinic that can actually respect them, their decisions, their autonomy, and help them get the comprehensive care that they deserve.”

There are at least 2555 CPCs located in the United States. They outnumber abortion centers by a large margin. 3 to 1. According to a, the Southeast has 902 CPCs or 35% of all national totals. database Created by Andrea Swartzendruber, and Danielle Lambert (associate professors of epidemiology at the University of Georgia College of Public Health). Texas has the region’s most at 198, followed by Florida with 151, and Georgia and North Carolina, which each have 89.

The four Southern states with most CPCs all have them funded by taxpayer dollars. Arkansas And Louisiana CPCs are also funded in other Southern states. Their legislatures recently approved $1 million each for them in the fiscal year 2022-23. 16 states across the country allot tax money to CPCs via programs that provide alternatives to abortion.

It is not clear how much money each state pays to CPCs. Some legislatures deliberately hide the funding. An AP investigation Published in January, the AP found that $89 Million was given to CPCs in 12 states alone during fiscal year 2021-22. The AP also revealed that CPCs in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina have collectively received $282.3 million from the state governments since 2010.

Pennsylvania was the first to fund CPCs under its abortion alternatives program. To date, it has given more than $100 millions to them. report The National Committee for Responsive Philantrophy. About 75% of U.S. CPCs are connected to four national anti-abortion organizations: Birthright International, an organization founded in 1968 by a Canadian housewife; Care Net, an evangelical Christian network of CPCs based in Virginia; Heartbeat International, an international anti-abortion association that supports the world’s largest network of CPCs; and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, a legal organization founded in 1993 that represents CPCs.

Shifting funds from CPCs

At least 10 states — including Louisiana, North Carolina, and Texas in the South — support CPCs with funds from the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families welfare program, which is intended for low-income families, according to a 2021 report Equity Forward, an investigative researcher organization focusing on human right issues, published this article. For example, North Carolina transferred $650,000 from the Maternal and Child Health Services Program to CPCs in 2019. Facing South reported this previously reported. The Texas legislature diverted $6 Million of TANF funds to CPCs in fiscal year 2020-21.

In Louisiana, the state legislature has shifted $1.3 million from the TANF program to the state’s Alternatives to Abortion program since 2016, according to a report Lift Louisiana, a group that advocates for reproductive rights, published the report earlier this year. The report showed that the state’s anti-abortion program gave $7.5 million to Caring to Love Ministries in 2011 and 2020, and $3.8million to the Family Values Resource Institute in 2013 and 2020. In turn, the anti-abortion organizations subcontracted 19 CPCs.

“We’re concerned they’re going to funnel even more funding into these pregnancy resource centers without actually requiring them to provide any real medical services that people may need,” said Lift Louisiana co-founder Michelle Erenberg.

CPCs also receive funds from TANF funds. In Florida, for example, $1.5 million of the $2 million legislative budget for the Florida Pregnancy Support Services program — created in 2004 to discourage abortions in the state — came from the state’s rape crisis program trust fund from 2011 to 2019, according to a report Published by Floridians for Reproductive Freedom last year.

“Until taxpayers can be assured that these centers conform to ethical standards of licensed medical facilities, offer sound medical advice, and do not lead to harm, the state of Florida should refrain from directly or indirectly funding anti-abortion pregnancy centers,” the report concluded.

Federal lawmakers are starting to pay attention to CPCs that have been funded by the state. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, along with five other Senate Democrats as well as independent Bernie Sanders, sent a letter last month. letter Heartbeat International requests information about how its CPCs collect, protect, and use data to address concerns that it could be used in abortion-related prosecutions.

“After luring pregnant people — many in desperate situations — to affiliate CPC facilities by using a variety of false and misleading tactics, Heartbeat International then collects a significant amount of their personal health care information, which in many cases does not appear to be protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA),” the letter stated. “We fear that, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that stripped women of their right to an abortion, this information may be used to put women’s health and freedom to choose in jeopardy, and to put them and their health care providers at risk of criminal penalties.”