Last week the North Carolina Senate considered a version of the state budget that would redirect $250,000 from the Women’s Health Services Fund, which provides family planning services to low-income women, to the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, which funds Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). On Wednesday, the bill was referred to the committee on appropriations. Since 2009, Texas has similarly allocated $4 million annually to unlicensed and unregulated CPCs. Why is this a problem? Because CPCs are known to pose as comprehensive medical centers, when in fact they provide misleading and inaccurate information to women. The Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship is an explicitly anti-abortion organization that provides funding and training for a majority of the CPCs throughout North Carolina.
Since 2006, the number of CPCs in North Carolina has doubled. 75% of these centers are located in communities with higher than average populations of people of color, and every college campus in the state has a CPC located within 25 miles of it. The Women’s Health Services Fund was established more than ten years ago to provide low-income women who do not qualify for Medicaid with access to family planning services. A significant portion of the Fund helps women obtain long-acting contraceptives that would otherwise be cost prohibitive. Taking money away from the Women’s Health Services Fund and redirecting it to the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship will continue to exacerbate existing discrepancies and further reduce women’s access to legitimate health care providers.
An investigation done by NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina found that most North Carolina CPCs provide inaccurate information. Ninety-two percent of CPCs had no medical providers on staff. Almost half of the CPCs told women seeking family planning services that none of the most common forms of birth control were effective at preventing pregnancy. Twenty-four percent of the CPCs investigated encouraged women to hold off on obtaining an abortion because of the possibility of miscarriage. This is a tactic meant to delay abortion until it is more expensive, more complicated, or too late. One CPC even claimed there was a link between abortion and lung cancer, second degree burns, and embolisms. Rather than providing health care services, some CPCs gave women bibles and prayed for them, offered ultrasounds, not for medical care, but rather to encourage the woman to “emotionally connect” with the image, and provided baby items as an incentive not abort. This decision by the North Carolina Senate will take money away from medical centers that provide comprehensive medical care to women in North Carolina and give it to deceptive and manipulative CPCs.
It is not hard to see what the Senate is attempting to do by including this issue in the state budget. Lawmakers have a responsibility to protect women’s health – a responsibility which is not met by funding CPCs.