The New Hunger Epidemic, Making CPCs Come Clean, and Smoking Hipsters

As some Americans obsess over whether to brine or deep-fry their Thanksgiving turkeys, others are going hungry. Seth Freed Wessler reports for ColorLines that 50 million Americans went hungry in 2009, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Astonishingly, more than 36% of female-headed households suffered from food insecurity last year, in spite of a massive expansion of federal food stamp benefits as part of the economic stimulus. Forty-two million families received food stamps last year, 10 million more than the year before. Congress gutted the food stamp program this summer. If something isn’t done, families of four will lose $59 a month in food stamp benefits at the end of 2014. At the time of the cuts, House Democrats promised to restore food stamp benefits during the lame duck session of Congress, but Freed notes there’s been little sign recently that they plan to follow through on the promise.

Making Crisis Pregnancy Centers come clean

The New York City Council is preparing to vote on the legislation to force so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) to disclose that they are not health care facilities and that they do not provide birth control or abortions. CPCs are anti-choice ministries that deliberately mimic abortion clinics in order to trick women who might be seeking abortions. It’s all a ruse to bombard these women with false information about abortion under the guise of health care. As we discussed last week in the Pulse, CPCs also serve as incubators for more extreme forms of anti-choice activism, from clinic obstruction to violence.

In RH Reality Check, Dr. Lynette Leighton explains why she supports New York City’s proposed bill to require so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” to disclose that they aren’t real clinics staffed by health care providers:

As a family physician, I provide comprehensive health care for all of my patients, including safe abortions for women who decide to end a pregnancy. I’ve cared for many women who came to me in crisis when they learned they were pregnant. The last thing my patients need is to be misled by anti-abortion organizations masquerading as health clinics. I’m strongly in favor of the New York City bill requiring crisis pregnancy centers to disclose that they do not provide abortions or contraception, or offer referrals for these services.

New York CPCs are claiming that the requirement to disclose violates their freedom of speech, Robin Marty notes in RH Reality Check. In other words, they are claiming a First Amendment right to bait and switch. The executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) is scheduled to testify before the City Council that the free speech claim is baseless.

See you in court!

In other reproductive rights news, the Center for Reproductive Rights took the FDA to court on Tuesday over access to the morning after pill. The FDA has been ignoring a court order to make emergency contraception available over the counter to women of all ages, and the Center is going to court to spur the agency to comply, Vanessa Valenti reports for Feministing.

Look at this smokin’ hipster

Tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds is courting hipsters with a new “Williamsburg” cigarette, Brie Cadman reports for “[Smoking Camels is] about last call, a sloppy kiss goodbye and a solo saunter to a rock show in an abandoned building… It’s where a tree grows,” according to the online ad copy. Mmm, kissing smokers.

It’s all part of an online marketing campaign in which users are invited to guess where brand mascot Joe Camel will show up next week. Interestingly, the contest’s name is “Break Free Adventure,” a twist on the Camel brand’s “Break Free” tagline. Odd that they’d pick a slogan usually associated with quitting smoking, rather than feeding the addiction. Those hipsters sure love irony.

Blowing the whistle on health insurers

On Democracy Now!, health insurance executive turned whistleblower Wendell Potter predicts that the Republicans will back off their grandiose campaign promises to repeal health care reform and instead try to dismantle the bill’s provisions that protect consumers. Potter notes that health insurers are major Republican donors, and that parts of the law are very good for insurers, notably the mandate forcing everyone to buy health insurance.

Apparently, some true believers haven’t gotten the memo. Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly notes that some Republican members of Congress are still gunning to shut down the government over health care reform and other spending.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. 

photo credit: thanks to stevendepolo via flickr
by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

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Sharon Beth L.
Sharon Beth Long5 years ago

I'm sorry that Susan J had a bad experience but most CPCs, at least in the New York City area, do not do this (full disclosure, I'm on the board of directors of a CPC which is never deceptive. I would like to point out that in New York City most of the abortion centers that advertise as clinics in the Yellow Pages (hard copy or online) are not legal clinics at all. Although they might meet the criteria of a clinic, called a diagnostic and treatment center in the New York State Health Code, they do not have state operating certificats and have no inspection or monitoring whatsoever. They get away with this by being legally "professional corporations, that is, private practices" because they are fully or partially owned by a doctor, frequently one who does not even work in the clinic in spite of the fact theat they frequently do very high volume The New York State Health Dept told me that they do not consider these places diagnostic and treatment centers even though they meet the state's own definition of this because if they did they would have to give them operating certificates and inspect them on at least an annual basis and they simply do not have the staff so they let them do their work under a doctor's license and hope for the best. Nevertheless most clients believe that these places (where you seldom have a relationship with the doctor) are adequately monitored, after all, they are advertised as "clinics". What about the deception involved with this?

April Thompson
April Thompson5 years ago

Thanks for info!

Anastasia F.
Anastasia F.5 years ago

RJReynolds: Baaarf. I hope there are no hipsters stupid enough to fall for their advertising, but people can be surprisingly stupid sometimes. I'm glad NY is making the CDCs come clean about their actual purpose.

Michael M.

I'm sorry behalf of my gender
people are stupid

Bon L.
Bon L.5 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Ioana Ionescu
Ioana Stefanescu5 years ago


Philippa P.
Philippa P.5 years ago


Susan J.
Susan J.5 years ago

When I was 3 months pregnant, I realized that I needed to leave my husband, who is an alcoholic, and return to the U.S. with my 3 year old daughter to start a new life. I had nothing and went to apply for Medicaid for prenatal care while I looked for work. The Medicaid office needed some official documentation that I was pregnant, and wouldn't accept the documentation from France, so they referred me to a place where I could get a test. I went to the place they referred me to and was horrified to discover that it was an anti-abortion place. I was treated to a lecture about how I could make Jesus my husband, and a gruesome abortion video. I was angry but I needed that piece of paper so I stayed until they let me go. I couldn't believe that a state agency was referring women to a place like that.

Ola C.
Ola C.5 years ago

I have no idea where to start. First, on the hunger problem in the US, it is no surprise to me that congress is more concerned with holding on to their power than about hungry people this holiday season. To me this is tragic!

On CPCs I am wondering why they are not charges with fraud! A crisis pregnancy center implies medical care. That is fraud, unless I am missing something.

I agree with Wendell Potter to a certain extent. Everyone has known for years that the primary donor to the GOP has been health insurance companies. Hence, the great disagreement over healthcare. As far as dimantling it, I believe they would. Some of the republicans I have noticed started backing off on health care as soon as the election result came in. Do I believe that some of the republicans would try to shut down the government over it? Yes, I do. Will they be able to achieve it? We will see.

Rose N.
Rose N.5 years ago

Thank you for posting.