The National Network of Abortion Funds is deeply concerned with the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of NIFLA vs. Becerra. This devastating ruling legitimizes extremist organizations whose mission is to defraud and coerce people seeking abortions by denying critical health care information to them during pregnancy, especially when time makes all the difference. Allowing fake centers known as Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) to prey on pregnant people looking for information and abortion access is an extreme failure on the part of the Court.
Melissa Torres-Montoya, Policy Director at the National Network of Abortion Funds, shared a statement from the organization about the harm today’s decisions will inflict on marginalized communities:
“This decision discriminates against people seeking abortions by privileging deeply unethical companies who profit from confusion. By allowing CPCs to intercept people in their search for reproductive healthcare options, and then withhold critical time-sensitive information, the Supreme Court has ruled to advance an ideologically anti-abortion driven agenda. Striking down California’s carefully constructed law–a law designed to protect access of all reproductive options and the rights of patients to have the full and complete information they need to make a decision–will disproportionately harm people with lower incomes, people in rural areas, people who face documentation and language barriers, and other people who are less likely to have access to regular reproductive healthcare. On a day when the Supreme Court also upheld a racist, xenophobic, and discriminatory immigration ban, we’re reminded that our struggles to access the resources we need to choose our opportunities and care for our families are intertwined.”
Rachel Coe, Movement Building Director at ACCESS Women’s Health Justice, the California-based abortion fund released the following statement on today’s ruling:
“Many times, the people who call us for support don’t know that they’ve been to a CPC until they go to one of these fake clinics and don’t receive care or even factual information about either their pregnancy or any state-sponsored services. A lot of the people who call us don’t know that they can receive low- or no-cost services in California. The majority of our callers identify as low-income, women of color; our Healthline advocates with them to ensure they get the care they want and need and deserve, no matter their income. That fake health centers purposely lie and shame people seeking support and compassion is unconscionable and adds to the misinformation and stigma around abortion, making it even more burdensome for people navigating very real barriers to their reproductive health. Abortion care isn’t controversial; it’s healthcare.”
In NIFLA vs. Becerra, the state of California attempted to halt the deceptive practices used by Crisis Pregnancy Centers to ensure patients seeking support for their pregnancies are able to receive medically accurate and unbiased information about their options relating to pregnancy, abortion, adoption, parenting, and state services, including Medicaid coverage for abortion care through MediCal. California’s attempt was designed to buck national trends and ensure that people seeking abortion care have access to the information they need.
Crisis pregnancy centers frequently spread misinformation to coerce those looking for information and options into continuing pregnancies against their wishes. These fake clinics are often staffed by unlicensed volunteers posing as medical professionals with a clear anti-abortion agenda. Many of these CPCs are operated by anti-abortion extremists and religiously affiliated organizations that seek to influence people who are looking for low-cost reproductive health care, including information on abortion.
The deception doesn’t end in the exam room. These fake clinics are known for popping up near legitimate health care clinics, using names that sound like clinics offering all options, and advertising free ultrasounds. In one scan of more than 250 fake clinic websites, researchers found that many discouraged use of condoms, based on false claims that they frequently break or are ineffective in preventing infections. Dishonest tactics like these are particularly harmful in states where students don’t have access to comprehensive or regulated sexual health education in school, and in states that require people seeking abortions to pay for ultrasounds and additional visits on top of the cost of their procedure.
When promoting crisis pregnancy centers, anti-abortion lawmakers use deceptive language like “positive alternative” centers, directly adding to abortion stigma. The National Network of Abortion Funds rejects tactics that shame or stigmatize abortion.
Lawmakers looking for a truly comprehensive model of support for pregnant people should visit All-Options’ Pregnancy Resource Center in Bloomington, Indiana, a member of the National Network of Abortion Funds. All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center operates a diaper bank, provides birth control, baby formula, clothing, adoption referrals, abortion referrals and funding support. More importantly, they are committed to providing all reproductive options without judgement. The National Network of Abortion Funds believes All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center the kind of affirming center states should be spending tax dollars on.
In states like Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, extreme politicians have diverted precious state funding to CPCs through programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Redirecting funding in this way hurts families across the country. In 2015, former Indiana Governor Mike Pence allocated $3.5 million in federal TANF funds to crisis pregnancy centers. A similar decision in Texas means that $20 million would come from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
In Pennsylvania, $30 million of taxpayer money was given to an anti-choice crisis pregnancy center chain that is currently under audit. In 2016, the Georgia House approved up to $2 million dollars of taxpayer money to fund CPCs. In California, crisis pregnancy centers have broken the law by not disclosing that they are not medical centers. Similar regulation of crisis pregnancy centers is being considered in Hawai’i.
In a country that takes great pride in being a worldwide leader in healthcare innovation, it’s despicable that our elected officials have invested so many state and federal resources in their politically-motivated quest to block people from accessing the care they need. The National Network of Abortion Funds is never going to stop fighting against the lies fake clinics tell and decisions that support medical misinformation. If the Supreme Court is a measure of justice and truth in this country, decisions like these only contribute to the widening gap of justice and power we see in these troubling political times.