Guest viewpoint from AJ Akers
North Carolina Republican legislators are raising the amount of funding for “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) across the state. Despite the majority of the public supporting safe access to abortion, Republican lawmakers continue to disregard the need for this life-saving healthcare for North Carolinians. Instead, they are pouring funds into these fake clinics that deliberately mislead those who are deciding their options for pregnancy. North Carolina Republican legislators who are supporting state funding going to “crisis pregnancy centers” are selfishly placing their own agenda before the safety of their constituents.
In the latest state budget, Republican leaders in the North Carolina state legislature funneled an additional $3 million in taxpayer funding to CPCs, for a total of $10 million in this fiscal year. As reported by the News & Observer in July, “The budget provides funding for 11 such centers across the state, with individual allocations ranging from $100,000 to $500,000.” This funding is generally given as a one-time grant, essentially awarding the CPC a lump-sum gift of taxpayer cash to spend – no strings attached.
What’s going on?
What is a crisis pregnancy center?
Why do legitimate healthcare providers such as Planned Parenthood label these centers as “fake” and “misleading?” Well, a crisis pregnancy center is a clinic that disguises itself as a legitimate healthcare center, but in reality, offers only a minimal range of medical services – if they offer any at all. According to an investigation that Time magazine conducted into these clinics, crisis pregnancy centers lure people who are pregnant into their centers by offering free reproductive or childcare items and using manipulative language and similar logos or advertisements that belong to legitimate health centers, such as Planned Parenthood. These centers exist to turn those seeking an abortion to alternatives such as parenting or adoption.
Not only do these centers seek to divert a person who is seeking an abortion from receiving necessary healthcare, but they also spread deliberate misinformation on abortion as a way to scare and shame the person seeking one.
How is this harmful to those who reside in North Carolina?
Because “crisis pregnancy centers” are not legitimate clinics, patients there have no legal guarantee that their private information will be protected. Since crisis pregnancy centers are simply private businesses, they do not have to follow the regulations and guidelines that actual health care providers do:
“This data includes sexual and reproductive histories, test results, ultrasound photos, and information shared during consultations, parenting classes, or counseling sessions, which some pregnancy centers require before they provide aid, like diapers.” (Time)
Though plainly dishonest, crisis pregnancy centers are demonstrably effective at accomplishing their goal. Research from 2021 showed that disinformation is quite effective, and that visiting a CPC decreases the chances of the person receiving an abortion following their visit: “At follow-up, respondents who had visited a CPC were significantly less likely to have had an abortion (29.5%) than those who had not visited a CPC (50.5%).” (Cartwright)
Access to safe abortion should be a basic human right. It is simply, and undeniably, healthcare. A person who is seeking an abortion should never have to justify or explain their abortion. Rather than making abortions illegal and shaming those who make the decision to have one, our healthcare system should offer them more support.