In case you’ve ever wondered just how much a state would be willing to pay in order to trick women into staying pregnant, Michigan has an answer for you: $800,000.
That’s how much the state of Michigan is paying a right-wing group to dissuade women from getting abortions. The organization receiving the money, Real Alternatives, helps crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) navigate laws dealing with church-state separation. These centers bill themselves as legitimate clinics with, you know, actual medical knowledge. What they are, however, are organizations devoted to lying to women. With Real Alternatives’ help, these CPCs are allowed to receive state money.
Theoretically, this state money would be used to reimburse CPCs for things like diapers, baby furniture and counseling — or shall I say “counseling” — services. Not that Real Alternatives has even been that effective. Last year, the state had a $700,000 contract with the organization. However, since Real Alternatives failed to sign up a single provider in the first eight months of its contract, the state has only payed out $40,000.
I guess Michigan legislators thought that maybe Real Alternatives needed about $100,000 more motivation.
If Michigan is only actually paying out a fraction of the contract price, what’s the big deal? Well $800,000 is close to what the state is spending on actual pregnancy prevention and family planning. In 2008, over half of the pregnancies in Michigan were unplanned. The child poverty rate in the state is increasing. Just think what family planning organizations could do with an extra $800,000. (After all, contraception is known to save taxpayers a heck of a lot of money.)
To be fair, the earmarked money is meant to be used to “promote childbirth,” as if that in and of itself is a good thing without regard for the parents’ life, financial situation or plans. Maybe the state could promote childbirth in another way. Like working to mitigate racial disparities in infant mortality. Michigan’s infant mortality rate has been higher than the national average for the past 20 years and is tightly tied to race. A baby born to a black mother is three times more likely to die before his or her first birthday than a baby born to a white woman.
Something else that factors into the health of a pregnant woman is her socioeconomic status. Oh, did I mention that Michigan will be ending its reproductive health services for low-income women at the end of the month? Yeah.
Of all that is outrageous about this allocation — the ineffectiveness, how it doesn’t actually address a problem, etc. — pales in comparison to the fact that a state is willing to shell out $800,000 to lie to women. Even if it turns out that the state only ends up paying a fraction of that amount, this is how much they are willing to pay to have people feed misinformation to women about their sexual health. In the scope of the entire state budget, $800,000 may not seem like a lot. But instead of using scarce resources to actually make life better for people in Michigan, they use it to pander to the anti-choice faction. It says volumes about where their priorities lie.
Photo Credit: Daniel Lobo via Flickr