As thousands of Texans lose access to crucial birth control and family planning services because of deep funding cuts, the state has somehow managed to allocate more funding for pro-life crisis pregnancy centers. The New York Times reports that conservative Texas politicians succeeded in adding $300,000 to a program called Alternatives to Abortion Services for the next two fiscal years, bringing total funding to $8.3 million.
This includes a network of around 26 crisis pregnancy centers, regulated by the nonprofit Texas Pregnancy Care Network (TPCN), which is contracted by the state to dispense $4 million to CPCs, adoption agencies, social service agencies and maternity homes.
TPCN stipulates that “misleading a woman in crisis pregnancy about the scope of available services is neither compassionate or caring,” and refuses to allow its centers to provide spiritual counseling. But at least one center affiliated with TPCN, Austin LifeCare, will not refer women to Planned Parenthood or other abortion providers. This makes it difficult to believe that they present abortion as a meaningful option.
An estimated 1,500 women seek assistance from organizations like Austin LifeCare every month. But walking into the clinic’s doors, it may not be readily apparent that the only medical procedures available on the premises are ultrasounds and pregnancy tests. While it’s certainly necessary to provide support to the women who do choose to continue with their pregnancies (as, it should be noted, Planned Parenthood does), the fact that these are the only women’s health organizations receiving increases in state funding is disturbing in the extreme.
When asked about the cuts to family planning funding, Austin LifeCare executive director Pam Cobern said, “There’s certainly a need for family planning. I’m not sure that organizations that have political agendas should be providing them.”
And you know, she’s right. But the problem is, between Austin LifeCare and Planned Parenthood, it’s clear which organization has a political agenda beyond providing women with a full array of choices. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not Planned Parenthood.
Photo from Elvert Barnes via flickr.