Imagine you’re in desperate need of a doctor and after checking into a clinic, you realize you’ve been tricked.
This is not a clinic, and the employees are not doctors.
For many women across the state of Texas, this isn’t a hypothetical. It’s the harsh reality of Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). These facilities, supported with taxpayer money, are non-medical facilities that exist solely to prevent people from accessing abortion services.
The false information
Once the women are in these facilities, they are subject to a barrage of fake statistics and falsified side effects, many of which follow the informational guidelines outlined by the legislature. Warning of increased risks of breast cancer that would arise from abortion, or the inability to conceive in the future, are statements that have no scientific basis. These appointments can include exaggerated sonograms performed by individuals lacking medical training, often providing the patient with inaccurate health information.
The lack of oversight is so stark that comedian John Oliver was able to open his own CPC, complete with sonogram machine, in a van.
These fake clinics, and the lack of regulation surrounding them, are of growing concern as they put the health of the patient at risk by providing them with information that is not medically sound. Through manipulation and coercion, CPCs convince women to carry their pregnancies to term because they are more preoccupied with a pro-life political agenda than the life of the patient.
These CPCs do not act in isolation; in fact, they are financially supported by the taxpayers of the state of Texas. Despite deep cuts to education, public health, and across the state’s budget, lawmakers increased funding to alternatives to abortion to the tune of $8.3 million annually.
While thousands of Texans remain in need, the legislature is prioritizing organizations that show little benefit to patients seeking care, while programs with proven track records of success remain underfunded.
Recent reports on women’s health programs from the Texas Health and Human Services agency measured non-medical organizations such as CPCs in the same category as actual medical facilities. This move, while discrediting the work of medical professionals, is also making it impossible to reveal the effects of the 2011 cuts in funding to family planning centers. Putting these groups in the same category is creating the illusion that Texas' women are adequately cared for, when that is not the case. Transparency on behalf of the state and crisis pregnancy centers must be at the forefront of efforts moving forward.
Instead of working in dishonesty, the legislature needs to operate in best medical practices to ensure the health and well-being of women across Texas. Texas has the largest number of uninsured women ages 19-64 in the country at 19 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, who cannot receive adequate care in CPCs.
Moreover, the 2011 decision to slash $73.6 million from the state's Family Planning Program has left families across the state reeling and is one of the factors that the Texas Tribune credits for the rise of maternal mortality rates in Texas.
We need to invest in what works, and that means trusting women to make decisions about their health care with medical professionals, not religious non-profits masquerading in prenatal care. We need to invest in comprehensive sex education, in contraceptives, and in affordable insurance for all Texas women.
Only then can we make good on the promise our lawmakers have made to protect the health of Texas women.
For more coverage, make sure you’re following NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and their work to #ExposeCPCs
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