How Are Crisis Pregnancy Centers Robbing Taxpayers?

| Reproaction

By: Shireen Shakouri

This blog post is the second in a series on Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). For more information on what a CPC is and how they harm women, please read What Is A Crisis Pregnancy Center? How Do They Push Alternative Facts? first.

A Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC) is a fake clinic run to convince women not to have abortions, plain and simple. Many of them pretend to be real abortion clinics, advertising free pregnancy tests and “counseling,” but their presentation of a women’s options is biased at best, insidious at worst, and certainly a waste of taxpayer resources.

Seven states use federal TANF grants — Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or welfare funding — to prop up CPC networks, and numerous others allocate funding to CPCs in their annual budgeting for family planning assistance. Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas have siphoned off $30 million in federal welfare dollars over four years to these organizations that are unregulated, tax-exempt, and provide flimsy justifications (or none at all) for their use of federal money. [1]

That alone should make you furious, but it gets worse. Multiple CPC networks are under investigation for misuse of public funds, and are making great strides in covering up their alleged crimes and buying more leeway to commit them. [2] In Pennsylvania, for example, a CPC network called Real Alternatives received a five-year, $30.2 million contract with the state’s Department of Human Services but came under investigation in Michigan in 2014 for “failing to see a single client” after receiving public grant money. [3,4] When the Pennsylvania state Auditor General decided to investigate Real Alternatives’ use of funds late last year after discovering the CPC network failed to account for close to $1 million of public grants in Pennsylvania, Real Alternatives sued the state for the ability to non-comply with the audit. [4,5] They won, and though the state’s contract with Real Alternatives expired on June 30 this year, it is expected to be renewed. [6] You just can’t make this stuff up.

Then, you have mega-CPC networks like Heartbeat International, which claim to receive no funding from “federal, state, or local government,” [7] but profit from “Choose Life” license plate programs that exist in many states. [8, 9] According to the Guttmacher Institute, 29 states have these license plate programs, and 15 of them donate a portion of the proceeds raised to specific anti-choice organizations and CPCs. [10]

Even if these centers provided all the services they purport to — and the evidence shows that they almost certainly do not, but I’ll get to that in a future post — taxpayers should be furious that public funding is being thrown at these often faith-based organizations that have no responsibility to the public and no regulation of how they provide their “services.” For more information on nefarious practices, misuse of public funds, and creepily predatory tactics of CPCs, I would highly recommend Cosmopolitan and The Investigative Fund’s 2015 report from a yearlong investigation on CPCs, found here.

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