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While Cutting Family Planning Funds, Texas Lawmakers Divert Millions To Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

“We’ve discovered they weren’t using that taxpayer money well and weren’t meeting their own goals in serving women,” says Heather Busby, NARAL’s executive director. “And at the same time, they’re getting an increase in public funding and aren’t being held accountable.”

In a recent attempt to obtain documents from TPCN, NARAL hit a brick wall. A Public Information Act request came up largely unresponsive, with portions of an Office of Inspector General performance audit redacted due to alleged “trade secrets.” Messages left for TPCN executive director John McNamara were not returned by press time.

“The same lawmakers that want overregulation of abortion clinics ask for zero regulation or oversight of these crisis pregnancy centers, it’s just a stark comparison there,” says Busby. “One is a medical clinic and the other is a religiously affiliated organization that is not beholden to give medically accurate information.”

A Right to No Facts

Of the six San Antonio-area CPCs, North SA’s A Woman’s Haven is the only one supported by state funding. The center touts “more than 35 years experience serving women facing an unplanned pregnancy” and advertises free, confidential and non-judgmental counseling and pregnancy tests at no cost in a pressure-free environment.

In total, A Woman’s Haven received more than $54,500 from the state since 2007, according to records obtained from the state Department of Health and Human Services. While CPCs tout aiding women with material assistance as a key contribution, the numbers reflect a different story. The CPC billed the state thousands in unlicensed “counsel” time over the years, but their reimbursements for food, baby clothing and furniture were comparatively scarce, revealing a disproportionate picture of their services. For instance, from 2008-2009 the CPC received $9,460 for counsel time and $1,764 for clothing—the most they asked for in this category since their induction into the Alternative to Abortion program. The food pantry received $21 dollars and the furniture stockpile saw no money from the state that same year.

In an effort to get a first-hand experience, the Current visited A Woman’s Haven for information about what a woman facing a crisis pregnancy should do and received factually inaccurate information. The center counselor provided an “A Woman’s Right to Know” pamphlet and drew attention to the supposed link between cancer and abortion as well as the relationship between abortion and difficulties in later pregnancy, false correlations often pedaled by the anti-choice movement. According to TPCN site visit records obtained from HHSC, A Woman’s Haven has been providing its clients with the brochure since at least 2009.

“This is important,” said the center counselor. “The connection between breast cancer and abortion—that’s something you need to know if you’re going to make that decision.”

Within the pages of “A Woman’s Right to Know,” created at the direction of 2003 legislation from one of the key authors of Texas’ new anti-abortion law and offered through the state’s Department of Health Services, a section outlines the threat of breast cancer for women who have undergone abortions. While women who carry their pregnancies to term may be less likely to develop this form of cancer in the future, women “do not get the same protective effect” if their pregnancies end in abortion. The brochure simultaneously notes that while further study is needed, “The risk may be higher if your first pregnancy is aborted.” As per Texas law, abortion doctors are required to give their patients a copy of this booklet.

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