NEWS: Taxpayer money for poor families is funding anti-abortion movement instead

Repro Health Watch

October 27, 2022 | Health Care, Abortion, Reproductive Rights

 

The Crisis Pregnancy Center Next Door: How Taxpayer Money Intended for Poor Families Is Funding a Growing Anti-Abortion Movement

CNN, October 25, 2022

A few blocks from the Ohio State University campus in Columbus, America’s battle over abortion is playing out under one roof. On one side of a squat single-story office building, a Planned Parenthood clinic offers reproductive health care and refers patients for abortions. Next door is a branch of Pregnancy Decision Health Center, a crisis pregnancy center that offers counseling and support for pregnant women – but also works to dissuade them from terminating their pregnancies and has been accused of promoting misinformation about abortion. Of the two neighboring organizations, only Planned Parenthood provides medical services such as Pap smears, birth control and STD treatments. But the crisis pregnancy center is the one receiving money from the state government. Ohio has funneled nearly $14 million in taxpayer funds to the center and others like it over the last decade, according to government records – even as state leaders have cut funding that previously went to Planned Parenthood for programs such as breast and cervical cancer screenings. Ohio isn’t alone. More than a dozen states devote some of their budget to funding crisis pregnancy centers, a CNN review found. About half of those states distribute federal money intended to help needy families to the centers. Some of the organizations that receive money have been accused of spreading abortion misinformation or using the funds to advocate anti-abortion causes instead of helping women. “Public dollars should go to promoting public health,” said Ashley Underwood, the director of Equity Forward, an abortion rights advocacy group. Crisis pregnancy centers, she said, “solely exist to deter people from getting abortion services.” Since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade this summer, a wave of abortion restrictions has swept the country, leaving millions of women with easier access to crisis pregnancy centers than abortion care. Crisis pregnancy centers far outnumbered abortion clinics across the US even before the court’s ruling, and anti-abortion groups are now planning to expand. Pregnancy center leaders and their state government allies say the organizations deserve taxpayer funds because they provide pregnant women with resources like free diapers and ultrasounds. But some of the centers also lie to women about the safety and potential risks of abortion, according to multiple studies, abortion rights activists, and women who have been to the centers. That kind of deception isn’t typical in any other area of health care, said Dr. Amy Addante, an Illinois OB-GYN who performs abortions and has been a vocal critic of crisis pregnancy centers.

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Pentagon Will Pay for Service Members to Travel for Abortions

Politico, October 20, 2022

The Pentagon will pay for service members to travel to obtain abortions, in a move the military says will ease the burden on troops who wish to receive reproductive care and are stationed in states where the procedure is no longer legal, the department announced Thursday. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday directed the Defense Department to establish travel and transportation allowances to ensure service members and their dependents have access, according to a memo. “Our Service members and their families are often required to travel or move to meet our staffing, operational, and training requirements. Such moves should not limit their access to reproductive health care,” Austin wrote. The “practical effects of recent changes” will ultimately hurt military readiness, Austin wrote, referring to the Supreme Court’s June decision to strike down Roe v. Wade. Austin noted that “significant numbers” of service members and their families will be forced to travel, take time off work, and pay more out of pocket to receive reproductive care. “In my judgment, such effects qualify as unusual, extraordinary, hardship, or emergency circumstances for Service members and their dependents and will interfere with our ability to recruit, retain, and maintain the readiness of a highly qualified force,” he wrote. Under current law, most abortions cannot be performed at military medical facilities and service members’ Tricare health insurance does not cover the cost of obtaining the procedure privately. The Hyde Amendment of 1976 prohibits the use of federal dollars for abortion unless the life of the mother is in danger. This includes travel for care that is not covered by the Department of Defense, including abortion services and certain reproductive technology services such as in vitro fertilization, the official said. Allowances will cover travel and transportation, but will not cover the procedure itself, the official said. “These policies will reduce the burden and cost for our service members and their dependents who may require teachers to travel greater distances to access reproductive health care,” the official said. Austin also directed the department to make a number of other changes related to reproductive health care, including establishing additional privacy protections; directing commanders to display “objectivity and discretion” when addressing reproductive health care matters; develop a program to reimburse applicable fees for DoD health care providers who wish to become licensed in a different state; and develop a program to support DoD health care providers who are subject to “adverse action” such as penalties or loss of license for performing abortions.

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Biden's Abortion Gag Rule Reversal Faces Early Legal Test

Bloomberg Law, October 26, 2022

A coalition of Republican attorneys general Thursday will try to convince the Sixth Circuit to block a Biden administration rule that restored funding for providers that made abortion referrals and failed to separate family planning and abortion services. In October 2021, the Health and Human Services Department reversed a Trump-era policy, eliminating sections of Title X that tightened participation requirements for the only federal program that helps pay for family planning services for low-income people. The litigation over the Biden rule’s validity is at the preliminary injunction stage, which means it will be a while before knowing if it passes muster. The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit’s decision will determine which groups can apply and qualify for the limited federal funds while the case proceeds. There’s lots of competition for that money, and the Biden rule reopened the playing field for providers that were shut out by the Trump rule’s requirements, Robin Summers told Bloomberg Law. Summers is vice-president and senior counsel at the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association. Carolyn McDonnell, litigation counsel at anti-abortion group Americans United for Life, said the new rule narrows opportunities for other family planning service providers, including states like Ohio. It also suffers from the same defect that the Trump rule was intended to fix—it fails to take into account Title X’s Section 1008, which prohibits using federal family planning funds to subsidize abortion, she said. Familiar-Looking Issue: The Trump rule imposed two new requirements on family planning providers applying for federal grant funds: the nonreferral provision—termed an abortion “gag rule” by the challengers—and the separation rule. It sparked litigation, which ended in a stalemate. The US Supreme Court granted review to resolve a circuit split over its legality, but the top court dismissed the case after President Joe Biden’s HHS issued a notice of proposed rulemaking. The Biden administration published its final rule in October 2021, essentially readopting the version that had been in place since 2000. The new rule spawned new litigation, but while multiple parties challenged the Trump rule in various lawsuits throughout the US, the case brought by Ohio and 11 other states is the only one seeking to block the Biden rule’s enforcement. The states argued that the Biden rule is arbitrary and capricious because the HHS didn’t consider other alternatives before giving up on the Trump rule.

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Abortion Bans Are Already Affecting Young Women's Personal and Professional Plans

Ms. Magazine, October 24, 2022

A significant portion of young women are already making plans about where they are willing to live and work based on whether abortion is protected or banned in states, according to new Ms. magazine and Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) polling by Lake Research Partners across the nine battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Over half (53 percent) have had their future plans impacted in some way: 44 percent have either considered moving or are making plans to move to a state where abortion is protected; 10 percent already have declined a job in a state where abortions are banned. Young women voters of all political leanings—and the people close to them—are taking actions to control their reproductive lives, regardless of where they live, such as purchasing or obtaining long-acting birth control, the morning after pill and abortion pills. Taking these actions in response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade crosses party lines for young women. A third of young women Republicans have procured long-acting birth control (33 percent), and a quarter (25 percent) have purchased the morning-after pill. Three quarters (75 percent) of young women Democrats have taken some sort of action. Shockingly, 10 percent say they or someone close to them, or their partner or the partner of someone close to them, already have received sterilization services in response to the Court’s decision. Abortion and Equal Rights Are Top Drivers of Young Women’s Vote in Battleground States: Among young women voters (under the age of 30) in the battleground states, abortion and women’s rights are the most important and highly motivating issues in determining their vote, according to the Ms. poll. “Despite constant reports in the media on inflation and rising prices as the top issues in this election, abortion and women’s rights are actually the most important for young women as they head to the ballot box,” said Katherine Spillar, executive editor of Ms. Among women voters of all ages in the battleground states, abortion and women’s rights are tied with inflation and rising prices in determining their votes.

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Low-Wage Workers Bear Financial Burden of Denied Abortions

PBS, October 26, 2022

A Texas mother of a toddler, scraping by on her husband’s income, was desperate to return to work but struggling to afford child care. A young Florida warehouse worker had barely left behind a turbulent past of homelessness and abuse only to be mired in debt. When both women learned they were pregnant, they came to the agonizing conclusion they couldn’t go through with it. “When you try to discuss the alternatives, you find the problems. If we could do this, where is the baby going to stay?” said Alyssa Burns, the warehouse worker who makes $16 an hour and was sharing a two-bedroom apartment with her boyfriend and another couple when she found out she was pregnant last year. “We both work full-time jobs. My mom works. We can’t afford child care.” There are wide-ranging reasons why women may seek to terminate their pregnancies but for those struggling to make ends meet, finances are inevitably part of the calculation. Now many of them will be thrust into a circumstance they can’t afford as abortion bans and restrictions take hold in half the country after the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling guaranteeing abortion rights. Three-quarters of women who seek abortions were low-income, meaning they had a family income below or up to double the federal poverty level, according to a 2014 study by the Guttmacher Institute, a science-based research group that supports abortion rights. More than half already had children and many worked in physically demanding roles with fewer labor protections and less flexibility than higher-wage jobs. “A salaried employee with benefits is the type of person who generally does find a way with or without their employer support,” said Caitlin Myers, an economist at Middlebury College who studies reproduction and the economy. “We are talking about a really economically fragile group of workers, often hourly workers, often shift workers with very unpredictable schedules for whom this becomes really overwhelming.” Burns, 24, was able to swiftly end her just over six-week-old pregnancy in March 2021 because Florida had no law against it at the time and the state’s current law bans most abortions after 15 weeks. But she said she is haunted by the idea that in a different state and a different time, she might have been forced to have the baby. The Texas mother panicked at the same possibility.

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Note: The information contained in this publication reflects media coverage of women's health issues and does not necessarily reflect the views of the National Partnership for Women & Families.

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