One of the few good moves the Obama administration made when it came to reproductive health was the removal of funding for ineffective abstinence only education, instead pushing federal dollars for fact-based sex ed. But with Republicans in charge of the House, moves are being made to replace those lost abstinence only dollars and fund other religious based, anti-choice organizations with even more federal funds, all while cutting funding to subsidized contraception, health screenings and comprehensive sex ed programs.
Mother Jones reports:
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who challenged the GOP’s efforts to cut funding for Planned Parenthood and other family planning programs in a floor speech last month, called Stearns’ measure [to provide federal funding to buy ultrasound machines for crisis pregnancy centers] “hypocrisy in its most obvious form.” “As Republicans seek to defund Planned Parenthood and deny vital health care services to American women most in need, they want to spend taxpayer dollars to support crisis pregnancy centers, which have become anti-choice groups’ sneaky alternative to legitimate reproductive health clinics,” said Speier via email. “These deceiving clinics entice women who are seeking abortions and then subject them to ultrasounds—with the explicit goal of convincing them not to have an abortion.”
Crisis pregnancy centers—often run by religious groups—received $30 million from HHS between 2001 and 2006 for abstinence-only programs and other projects, according to a 2006 House Energy and Commerce Committee report. The HHS grant database indicates another $9.3 million in grants were given to CPCs since 2007.
There have been other attempts in recent years to increase federal funding for these organizations. In 2009, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) introduced the Positive Alternatives Act, a measure that would have amended the Social Security Act to allow funds for low-income assistance to be used for “alternative-to-abortion” services. Abortion rights advocates contended the beneficiaries would have been CPCs. That same year, Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) also pushed an amendment that would have boosted federal assistance to CPCs, but the measure failed.
These bills refer just to federal efforts to bait and switch with tax dollars, and don’t include the multitude of state programs doing the exact same thing. Even here in Minnesota, taxpayer dollars go year after year to our local “Positive Alternatives Act,” providing millions to pregnancy centers that must not provide or refer for abortions or birth control, and who are not required to provide full disclosure as to what they actually purchase with the money (a majority of the funds appear to go to “support” rather than to supplies and assistance for women).
Is part of the plan to fund these anti-choice groups to help convince more women to have babies rather than abort? Of course. But these are also the huge donors and mass voters for Republican candidates. More funding for them means more support for Republican campaigns.