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NPR: States Direct Funding to Antiabortion-Rights Crisis Pregnancy Centers

NPR: States Direct Funding to Antiabortion-Rights Crisis Pregnancy Centers

March 10, 2015 — Some states that are working to cut funding for women's health clinics like Planned Parenthood are also boosting support for antiabortion-rights crisis pregnancy centers, NPR's "Shots" reports.

About CPCs

CPCs are private, not-for-profit organizations that counsel pregnant women, oftentimes trying to dissuade them from having an abortion. The clinics are often religiously affiliated. Although CPCs are not medical centers, many provide ultrasounds.

According to "Shots," the number of CPCs has grown in recent years. Several thousands of such clinics are estimated to exist in the U.S., meaning that they greatly outnumber abortion clinics.

State Funding for CPCs

According to data from the Guttmacher Institute, seven states included line items in their budgets related to CPCs. For example, Texas provided more than $5 million over a two-year period for CPCs, while Ohio included $250,000 for CPCs in its 2013 budget. Abortion-rights opponents in Ohio are expected to increase their state budget request for the centers to $1 million this year. Ohio and almost two dozen other states sell license plates that say "Choose Life," with the proceeds from sales going to CPCs.

Meanwhile, some states are trying to compel more women to go to CPCs through legislation. For example, a South Dakota law (HB 1180) requires women to have a consultation at a CPC before an abortion. However, courts have temporarily blocked the provision while it is being challenged.

Critics Say CPCs Offer Misinformation

Critics of CPCs have noted that the centers are not licensed or regulated and sometimes offer inaccurate or misleading information about abortion. In addition, critics have said that CPC volunteers will sometimes use delay tactics to push a woman's decision to have an abortion into her second trimester, when abortion is more costly and carries greater risk of complications.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio sent undercover women to 55 CPCs in Ohio and found that counselors at the centers told women the medically unsupported claims that abortion can lead to breast cancer, depression, infertility and substance use disorders. Further, the counselors did not offer advice about contraceptives when the women asked how to avoid becoming pregnant and instead recommended abstinence.

Some States Attempt Regulation

To combat these practices, some states have tried to regulate the centers by requiring them to provide medically accurate information, disclose whether they have a medical professional on site and clearly state that they do not offer contraception or abortion.

Courts have halted most of such efforts after the centers challenged the laws on free-speech grounds. However, a judge in February ruled that a San Francisco ordinance (212-11) barring CPCs from using misleading or false advertisements is not unconstitutional because the First Amendment does not protect "false and misleading commercial speech" (Ludden, "Shots," NPR, 3/9).