Many states across the country have seen local funding to so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” increase, despite budgets for assistance to health clinics that provide STI testing and treatment, family planning and contraceptives, and fact based sex education being slashed. Often, these centers have very little oversight or reporting required in exchange for their state grants and are run primarily by religious groups and organizations.
And, as more investigations have been showing, they often lie to their clients.
Now, NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota has conducted its own investigation into CPCs in the state that receive grants via the state’s “Positive Alternatives Act,” a program designed provide resources to Minnesota women with unexpected pregnancies in an attempt to keep them from considering abortion. With an annual budget of $2.4 million, most of the money goes to religious, anti-choice CPCs who take an “any means possible” approach to talking women out of terminating pregnancies.
As NARAL notes, “The intent of the legislation was to support alternatives to abortion programs that aid women and families experiencing unplanned pregnancies with such services as parent education classes, care coordination, and transitional housing. Despite this intent, much of the funds are used to further the CPC’s mission of dissuading women from choosing legal abortion. Such tactics often include using a name similar to that of a comprehensive clinic, use of recreational ultrasound, and required viewing of medically inaccurate videos and literature.”
The reporting on CPC spending is quite minimal, but I learned the same when I was looking into where the money has gone in the past few years. As I wrote for RH Reality Check in fall of 2010:
According to Lifenews, the $4.7 million provided for the July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2010 cycle, assisted 13,037 women, breaking down to a total assistance of $360 per woman. A list of the “assistance” paid for by these funds makes it fairly clear that a majority of the money is not going to the women to actually financially help them care for their children, but to anti-choice groups to provide parenting seminars, home visits, mentoring, nutrition programs, 24-hour information lines, and a large amount of undetermined “support services.”
Less than one quarter of the organizations claim to provide some form of medical care to women (a service desperately needed thanks to the governor’s eligibility cuts to the state medicaid program), and even less offer financial assistance, housing help or daycare assistance. As the reporting requirements on the grants have been lax at best, and non-existent at worst, there is no current record of how much money actually goes to support women continuing their pregnancy, versus keeping anti-abortion charities well-funded.
NARAL’s own investigation is much more hands on. “The investigation, conducted by a team of NPCMF staff and volunteers, included 27 in-person visits, 15 website analyses, and 32 phone calls to 15 of the state-funded CPCs.”
So what did NARAL learn?
■ 73% of the CPCs investigated repeated the false claim that there
is a link between abortion and an increased risk of developing
■ 87% of CPCs investigated advised that abortion will lead to severe
mental health problems.
■ 67% highlighted a link between future infertility and abortion
either through personal stories, pamphlets distributed at the CPC
or through their website. In addition, 75% of CPCs investigated
suggested a link between abortion and future miscarriages.
■ One CPC lists their position on abortion explicitly on their
website. For other CPCs, it is only after a woman arrives in-person
at the CPC that their true bias is disclosed.
■ None of CPCs investigated refer women for birth control. In
fact, 67% provided misleading information regarding the risks
associated with birth control and 60% provided medically
inaccurate information about Emergency Contraception (EC).
■ Based on research by NPCMF, the majority of CPC representatives
were medically untrained volunteers.87% of CPCs
State officials have said they will look into the allegation in NARAL’s report. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Deputy Commissioner Jim Koppel said, “While we have not yet had a chance to review the full report, we are concerned when there are allegations that an organization receiving grants from the Minnesota Department of Health does not provide accurate information to consumers.”
Meanwhile every day a woman or girl goes to one of these CPCs looking for help, and instead gets propaganda and lies, all via taxpayer dollars.
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