The National Network of Abortion Funds and all seven Texas abortion funds serving thousands of people per year, including Texas Equal Access Fund, Lilith Fund, West Fund, Fund Texas Choice, Stigma Relief Fund, Frontera Fund, and Clinic Access Support Network, are alarmed to see the Texas House approve up to $20 million dollars of taxpayer money to fund dishonest, non-medical crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). Texas is one of at least 12 states that directly fund CPCs, and this decision will surely add to the more than 4,000 CPCs already spanning the United States.
With an anti-abortion agenda at their root, CPCs provide a limited amount of resources to people who are pregnant or parenting, but refuse to provide clients these same clients with information on abortion services if asked and frequently spread misinformation to coerce those looking for resources into carrying a pregnancy to term against their wishes. They are often staffed by unlicensed volunteers posing as medical professionals. Many of these CPCs are run by anti-abortion extremists and religiously affiliated organizations who lure in those looking for free or low-cost reproductive health care, including information on abortion. Undercover investigations show anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers have been found to lie to people seeking medical care, coerced teens into signing away abortion rights, and use smartphone surveillance to target people seeking abortions.
In one scan of 254 CPC websites, many discouraged use of condoms, claiming that they frequently break or are ineffective in preventing infections. These tactics are particularly problematic in states where sex education isn’t regulated and in states that require those seeking abortions to also pay for ultrasounds and additional visits, both of which are true in Texas.
In states like Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, state money to CPCs is typically funneled through programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Programs like these hurt families. In 2015, former Governor Pence allocated $3.5 million in federal TANF funds to crisis pregnancy centers. In the case of Texas, $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 with the state. In 2016, the Georgia House approve 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.
Already in Texas it’s far too easy to find medical misinformation at the ample number of CPCs across the state (see Map 1), while it’s much more difficult to find a Planned Parenthood or independent abortion provider (see Map 2). Between lying to people about their medical options during a pregnancy and revoking funding for environmental protections, the Texas House is seemingly unbothered by the dire health consequences they are delivering to Texans. Once again, so called “pro-life” values are anything but.
Map 1: Time to crisis pregnancy center
Map 2: Time to medical facility providing abortion care
Note: These maps were created by a team of tech professionals at the recent Abortion Access Hackathon held at Github’s offices in San Francisco, CA and provided for this statement by team leads Jamie Anderson and Ian Mathews using Redivis geospatial tools. Data were sourced from the Guttmacher Institute’s individual state pages to record state-specific legal restrictions; Planned Parenthood clinics for each state that provide abortion services; NARAL; National Abortion Federation, and the Abortion Care Network.
Yamani Hernandez, Executive Director of the National Network of Abortion Funds says,
“Crisis Pregnancy Centers are not built to support people through all the complexities and risks of pregnancy, but are single-minded in their intent to force people into childbirth, regardless of the consequences. If Texas lawmakers choose to divert even more of its environmental budget—funding which would have gone towards improving air quality in the state—to pay for CPCs, they are in fact both obstructing a legal medical procedure while simultaneously threatening the environmental health of all people living in the state. Real, unbiased health care happens between a person and their medical provider. That’s where we want our tax dollars to go—comprehensive reproductive health care that includes everything from prenatal care to abortion coverage.”
Nan Little Kirkpatrick, Executive Director of the Texas Equal Access Fund says,
“The state of Texas continues to show disdain for people’s lives by doubling down on a program that has proven to be ineffective while refusing to fund abortion for folks who can’t afford healthcare. Texas won’t expand Medicaid, it won’t provide state Medicaid funding for abortion, and, this session, there is an attempt to bar private insurance coverage of abortion. By increasing funding for the Alternatives to Abortion program, the state is attempting to control peoples’ reproductive lives and futures, in part by economically coercing low-income people into not seeking abortion. And with no abortion providers in our rural communities thanks to the oppressive actions of our state legislature, for some folks the only information on abortion available in their communities is coming from biased fake clinics funded by the state. This is discriminatory, and disproportionately impacts people of color, immigrants, rural people, and young people.”
Amanda Williams, Executive Director of Lilith Fund says,
“As an abortion fund, we hear directly from communities most impacted by state laws aimed at making safe abortion care completely inaccessible. Because there are more than double the number of Crisis Pregnancy Centers than there are abortion providers in Texas due to various discriminatory laws, many of our callers reach out to CPCs along their journey expecting to obtain medically accurate and unbiased information regarding all of their options. To their dismay, these centers lie and perpetuate harmful myths about abortion care, which only further stigmatizes abortion and isolates those seeking honest and compassionate care. Instead of funneling money from the TCEQ—an agency meant to preserve environmental safety for Texans—to the deceitful Alternative to Abortion program, lawmakers should focus on prioritizing resources that ensure all Texans can live safely, and free from the kinds of harm, lies, and coercion CPCs spew onto people seeking support.”
Gina Lawrence, Director of Media and Communications of West Fund says,
“The West Fund serves people that live here on the border and across rural west Texas, who already lack adequate resources in our communities. By moving money away from reproductive health care and toward Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which lie to patients in order to get them to give birth rather than seeking an abortion, we are only making access to reproductive care harder in our state. Patients have called us several weeks into their pregnancies, saying that they thought they had an appointment at an abortion clinic, but the clinic turned out to be a Crisis Pregnancy Center that was running out the clock, so that abortion would no longer even be a choice. With the average West Fund patient already driving a 393 mile round trip to seek abortion care, increasing the number of CPCs will cause more people to seek help from the centers, only to discover they have been lied to. Rather than funneling money toward funding fake clinics that lie to patients, Texas should focus on actual reproductive health, including comprehensive sexual education, birth control, Medicaid expansion, and funding Planned Parenthood.”