Last year, the state of Texas gave anti-abortion organisation Heidi Group $1.6 million to provide every health care service to ladies except abortions. Eight months later, the Heidi Group appears to have fallen flat on its promise.
This week, the Associated Press reportedthat the organization has failed in its million-dollar endeavor to strengthen small clinics that specialize in womens health but that dont give abortion. And this report comes at a particularly important instant: The GOPs proposed alternative to the Affordable Care Act would defund Planned Parenthood, something House Speaker Paul Ryan calledpart of a conservative wish list at a press conference last week.
The AP reported that the Heidi Group, which is part of the states Alternatives to Abortion plan and whose funds subsidize Crisis Pregnancy Centre in all areas of the government, has done little of the outreach it promised, such as helping clinics promote their services on Facebook, or airing public service announcements. It hasnt made good on plans to establish a 1-800 number to help women find providers or ensure that all clinics have updated websites.
The Texas state governments logic behind the Heidi Group initiative was that womens health care ought to be provided separately from abortions.The issue, though, is that Crisis Pregnancy Centre dont employ medical professionals or offer medical services.
CPCs are womens centers funded by anti-abortion groups( like Heidi Group ), with the implicit aim of convincing women not to have abortions. Though many CPCs claim to offer a full range of services to pregnant women, the nearest thing that many CPCs have to medical professionals are sonogram nurses.
Unlike Planned Parenthood and other health care providers, CPCs do not offer STD tests, Pap smears, contraception advice or implantation, cancer screenings or prenatal care.
What CPCs do giveis faith-based advise( often from volunteer counselors , not certify psychologists or psychotherapists) and short-term, quick-fix assistance often in accordance with the arrangements of nappies and baby beds. CPCs are often located within walking distance to abortion clinics, and often place volunteer anti-abortion protestors outside of those clinics to hand out fliers and pamphlets to patients encouraging them not to go to their appointment. Many of them likewise have misleading names that could easily be confused with the names of actual abortion clinics, like Pregnancy Resource Clinic in Phoenix, Az. or Womens Care Center, a chain of CPCs in Indiana.
Crisis pregnancy centers are given millions of dollars in government funding to manipulate and dishonor Texans considering having an abortion, Sharmeen Aly, Communications Coordinator of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, told The Huffington Post on Wednesday. They are not comprehensive health centers and often provide no medical services. Crisis pregnancy centers exist to prevent people facing unintended maternities from retrieving abortion care and delay their care to the point where theyre not able to access abortion.
It is unconscionable that[ Crisis Pregnancy Centre] continue to receive millions from the government to peddle their baseless anti-abortion agenda. Sharmeen Aly, Communications Coordinator of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas
Of course, the presence of CPCs isnt simply limited to the government of Texas.
The 2016 documentary film JACKSON , explored what the health care landscape looks like for women in Mississippi, where simply one abortion clinic remains.Shannon Brewer, director of Jackson Womens Health Organization, told HuffPost that what CPCs do to young women is provide a false hope that theyll have support in raising unplanned children.
By the time[ patients] realize that its false hope, Brewer mentioned, theyve already had another newborn, and theyre already in similar situations or a worse situation.
Other nations have also had to deal with CPCs, which often outnumber abortion clinics. In Charlotte, N.C ., two mobile crisis maternity centers park outside A Preferred Womens Health Center every day to try to get women to pull over before they park at the abortion clinic.The CPC, PRC Charlotte, boasts no cost services and walk-ins welcome traits that many women look for when attempting reproductive health care. PRC Charlotte offers free ultrasounds in their RVs, but otherwise offers zero medical services.
Some of the pro-choice volunteers outside A Preferred Womens Health Center told HuffPost in December that PRC Charlotte often use misleading knowledge, or flat-out lies, to get patients to carry their maternities to term.
Patients have been told that their pregnancy wasnt attached properly and that they would abort, so they are able to cancel their[ abortion] appointment, one volunteer clinic escort told HuffPost. Another was told that her maternity was too far along for an abortion, and that she should cancel, too, even though it wasnt.
PRC Charlotte denied these practices, butresearch to demonstrate that misleading patients is common practice for CPCs, and, back in Texas, Sharmeen Aly agrees.
These centers use scare tactics and offer scientifically inaccurate information to their patients, she told HuffPost. It is unconscionable that they continue to receive millions from the government to peddle their baseless anti-abortion agenda.
CPCs have become increasingly powerful, with the Heidi Group able to convince the Texas government to give it more than$ 1 million last year. And in Boise, Id ., Brandi Swindell, who started CPC chain Stanton Healthcare, can only hope CPCs can replace Planned Parenthood wholly.( Though in contrast to the care most CPCs offer or rather, dont offer Swindell has said she wants to induce STI testing and diagnostic ultrasounds available in her clinics .)
Swindell told Cosmopolitan last June: We hope to be much like Margaret Sanger was, a revolutionary of her period … I know, can you believe Im use her?
But CPCs still cannot replace the thing that women arguably require most: actual comprehensive health care, provided by licensed medical professionals. And state governments are noticing.
The Heidi Groups failure to provide what it set out to provide has been noticed by the commission that provided different groups with funding.
Texas Health and Human Services Commission spokeswoman Carrie Williams told the AP thatthe bottom line is that we are holding our contractors accountable, and will do everything we can to help them induce themselves successful.
And in Oakland, Ca. last summer, the City Councilpassed an regulationrequiring CPCs to be transparent about their provided services and, perhaps more importantly, what the hell is dont provide.Oakland Vice Mayor and District 4 City Councilwoman Annie Campbell Washington, who co-authored the ordinance, told HuffPost that her biggest issue with CPCs is their misleading advertising practices.
I take fact in advertising very seriously. I believe that CPCs are part of a pro-life strategy. They are entirely misleading pregnant women who are vulnerable and specifically looking for abortion services, she mentioned. If they were marketing their services as We will help you through your maternity thats fine. But thats not what theyre doing. Theyre lying to women.
She likewise believes that the government should absolutely not be money CPCs.
Theyre not providing the services that they claim to be providing, she mentioned. Theyre misleading women into believe they can get some sort of medical care, which they cant. They should absolutely not be receiving government funding.
Local governments in Baltimore, Los Angeles and San Francisco have also put into place legislation meant to combat misleading CPC practices, and now, even in an actively anti-abortion government like Texas, its becoming increasingly clear that CPCs are not the answer to expanding womens access to health care.
It turns out that the care Planned Parenthood furnishes to 2.5 million men and women per year is not as easily replaceable as anti-abortion groups want it to be. The Heidi Groups founder, the staunch anti-abortion advocate Carol Everett, acknowledgedher organizations shortcomings in Texas last week.
Its not as easy, she mentioned. Because “were not going” Planned Parenthood.
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