In Missouri, Crisis Pregnancy Centers, aka fake health centers, receive millions of dollars to spread misinformation to people seeking abortions.

Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are tax-exempt, fake health clinics that shame and intentionally mislead people about their reproductive healthcare options in order to to block them from accessing abortion and contraception. While some CPCs masquerade as abortion clinics, they don’t provide accurate information about abortion and don’t provide abortion or contraception referrals. CPCs often target those who face the highest barriers to reproductive health care: Black and Brown Missourians, youth, and people of low-income. Millions of taxpayer dollars are given to CPCs every year so they can continue to undermine access to critical, time-sensitive abortion care. 

There are many dangers to funding CPCs. One is that these centers communicate scientifically illegitimate information, shame people for wanting abortions, and litter their resources, including lectures and videos, with anti-abortion propoganda. In a 2011 study, NARAL Missouri found that 92% of Missouri CPCs religiously proselytized in person or in their materials and that a similar percentage purveyed false information about an abortion/breast cancer link, condom failure rates, or other discredited information. CPCs also encourage what they call the “Abortion Reversal Pill,” which they claim halt abortions, although this does not exist. Investigative studies about CPCs have also highlighted that CPCs often lie about the person’s pregnancy status or the gestational age of the fetus in order to convince pregnant patients they are too far along in their pregnancy to obtain an abortion legally. Though CPCs claim to prioritize “women’s safety,” their actions clearly demonstrate that they prioritize ideology over safety and empowerment. 

The 77 CPCs that exist in Missouri receive millions of taxpayer funding every year. In 2017, $4.3 million dollars of Missouri’s TANF funds (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) were used to fund the anti-abortion “Alternatives to Abortion Services” program under the state budget. According to Missouri Budget, the “Alternatives to Abortion” programs was alloted $5.9 million dollars in 2018, and Missouri legislatures set aside $6.45 million for the program in 2019. In July 2020, Governor Parson allocated a whopping $6.46 million dollars to CPCs. In comparison, the budget for food distribution programs has remained the same the past three years ($1.5 million), and the budget for assisting victims of sexual assault has remained under $1 million dollars the past three years. This means that Missouri was actively diminishing state welfare programs in order to stop abortions. 

Missouri is intentionally pushing its resources to misleading information, which delay access to genuine reproductive healthcare and block people from making fully informed healthcare decisions. Missouri should stop funding programs that deprive pregnant people of information and shame them for wanting abortions. Instead, we should embrace a world where everyone can access the reproductive care they need and are empowered and trusted to make the right reproductive healthcare decisions for themselves.

 

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