Local Lawmaker Wants More Funding for "Crisis Pregnancy Centers"

As abortion clinics become an endangered species in the state of Texas, a Houston-area lawmaker wants to double down on the state's Alternatives to Abortion program, the primary vehicle for funding the state's dubious crisis pregnancy centers.

Last week, Friendswood Republican state Rep. Greg Bonnen managed to pass a budget rider through the House Appropriations Committee that would nearly double the amount of state money going to the Alternatives to Abortion program, from about $5.1 million per year to more than $9 million per year, as first noted by the Texas Observer. According to language in Bonnen's rider, the money would go to increase funding to "pregnancy centers and early childhood care."

While the nonprofit Texas Pregnancy Care Network, which contracts with the state to distribute the Alternatives to Abortion program cash, funds maternity homes and adoption agencies, it spends the bulk of that money on crisis pregnancy centers.

The problem with that, reproductive-rights advocates say, is that investigation after investigation has shown that CPCs aren't upfront with women who walk through their doors facing an unplanned pregnancy. As Naral Pro-Choice Texas put it in an investigation last year, CPCs "frequently disguise themselves as health care facilities, but offer only limited and often medically inaccurate services." And women facing an unplanned pregnancy are much more likely to stumble upon a CPC than an actual abortion provider in Texas, as this map from Naral Pro-Choice Texas illustrates.

Take for instance this VICE investigation last year into one Dallas-area CPC, which just so happened to be located right next to an actual abortion clinic (what a coincidence, right?). In a phone consultation, a worker implied that a pregnant woman could receive an abortion through the center, but that she'd have to visit in person for more information. Once the woman got there, a center focused almost entirely on urging her not to go through with her termination.

Add to that the fact that CPCs in Texas are unregulated, or that they routinely give pregnant women scientifically inaccurate information (like that abortion is linked to breast cancer, which it isn't), and Texas' love affair with this "alternative" to abortion looks even more concerning.

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Michael Barajas
Contact: Michael Barajas