The Texas Independent reports today on violations ranging from fire safety to client privacy in many of “alternatives to abortion” clinics run by independent contractors but funded by the state government. You know them as crisis pregnancy centers, and also as one of the few state-funded programs that saw a funding increase in this atrocious budget year–from $4 million to $4.15 million, despite the fact that they provide no medical care, no medical advice and are staffed by religiously-motivated volunteers who have minimal training. Actual medical care that serves women and children in Texas been slashed, and Planned Parenthood has lost $47 million in funding.
The Texas Pregnancy Care Network conducted what amounts to an internal audit–-with faith-based, religiously–motivated inspectors looking into violations in clinics they have a vested interest in keeping afloat. There has not yet been an official third-party, or even Texas Department of Health and Human Services inspection into these CPC’s.
The Independent has the entire CPC inspection report available to read, but I’d just like to pluck out one totally not surprising finding: 15 percent of contractors did not, during supervised inspections, separate religious and educational material:
Official records of TPCN follow-up visits — conducted after they’ve begun receiving state money — show violations ranging from fire safety to possible breaches of client privacy. During 15 percent of inspections (which were not undercover visits), subcontractors had failed to separate and label spiritual and educational materials properly.
Do you know why this doesn’t surprise me? Because the entire point of “alternatives to abortion” programs is not, in fact, to help pregnant women in need but to ensure that they feel the appropriate amount of God-sanctioned guilt so that they don’t abort. Full stop. That is the beginning and end of what CPC’s are interested in, and while they talk a big game about adoption services and prenatal care, the fact is, many if not most of them aren’t licensed to provide either. We can take “alternatives to abortion” very literally–-any alternative to abortion is alright by these folks, regardless of the impact it has on a woman’s life. As long as it’s not abortion, the means aren’t exactly important.
Why separate religious and educational material when you get maximum slut-shame for your buck by combining them? Reporters–-again for the Texas Independent, which continues to do excellent work on the repro health beat–-wrote back in March: CPC “nonprofits routinely blur the line between counseling and religious proselytizing.” State-sanctioned materials available to women who go to these programs actually contain mentions of a link between breast cancer and abortion, even though no credible scientific body or medical organization has ever found any evidence to support that connection.
If this report is to be believed, I think it’s reasonable to assume that the actual number of CPC’s mixing religion with education is much higher, considering these inspections were conducted by allies, rather than objective third parties. So actually, scratch that. I am totally surprised that 15 percent of CPC’s, during announced, non-undercover inspections conducted by sympathetic supervisors, did not bother to separate or label religious and educational material. That number should be–-and probably is–-much higher. These places already blatantly disregard good science, good medicine, and good public policy in favor of religious extremism–-why would we expect them to adhere to reasonable state regulations like these? I mean, besides that minor detail about how the government has no business funding religious proselytizing.