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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

A notable name in the bunch is Carol Everett, a former abortion clinic director who had a “change of heart” in the ’80s and took over a network of seven CPCs in Dallas. Everett also serves as founder and CEO of Heidi Group, a Christian-based national anti-choice group that once hoped to be the Alternatives to Abortion state contractor, losing out to TPCN. The Round Rock-based CPC network has received thousands in state funds through the Alternatives to Abortion program ($16,175 from September 2009-August 2010 alone). Everett has made a name for herself as a leading figure against the “abortion industry” and even penned a book about it pointedly titled Blood Money: Getting Rich off a Woman’s Right to Choose.

The Current spoke to Joe Pojman, founder and executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, from his office in Austin. TAL spent five Legislative sessions advocating for the plates, finally seeing success in 2011. Pojman said he hoped the money would flow toward organizations that promote adoption services, including pregnancy resource centers. But with millions already directed at CPCs, how could additional funding be rationalized?

“This money is targeted to promote infant adoption, the other state funds are not necessarily targeted to that,” said Pojman.

Pojman refuted the seeming conflict of interest one of his board members may pose to the Choose Life committee as well as the others who work with existing state-funded CPCs. Pojman countered that the advisory committee members simply “recommend” who should be awarded the money, they don’t disburse it. However, the state Attorney General’s website clearly indicates the committee will not only review grant applications but “distribute funds raised” by Choose Life plate sales.

False Advertising

“Are You Pregnant? Need Help? Call us,” reads a vague online description for A Woman’s Haven. A short YouTube video promises “loving friendship” for women who stand at a crossroads in their pregnancy decision. Eclipsed by a placard advertising the name of a medical doctor, the brick and mortar sign outside A Woman’s Haven is barely noticeable. The non-descript advertising by CPCs is nothing coincidental, argue critics.

CPCs seek to replicate advertising of actual health providers in an attempt to lure pregnant women like Gonzales who hope to learn about all their medical options, says NARAL’s Busby. There are no rules to ensure CPCs don’t intentionally—or unintentionally—deceive women about their services.

But some municipalities have taken the matter into their own hands. A handful of cities, like Austin, have tried to adopt transparency ordinances requiring CPCs to post signage explicitly indicating they do not offer abortion or birth control or employ licensed health care providers. Citing an infringement on free speech rights and religious freedom, a coalition of CPCs, represented by the conservative legal advocacy group Liberty Institute, fought back against Austin’s ‘truth in advertising’ measure, unanimously passed in 2010. As a result, councilmembers struck the former two disclosures, determining the latter would better hold up in court. At present, the case is still awaiting a judge’s decision, said Liberty Institute’s Gregg Wooding.

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