Senate Budget to Increase Funding for so-called Crisis Pregnancy Centers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 30, 2014

CONTACT: Suzanne Buckley, 919-972-eight486

Raleigh, NC — Months after launching their summer “sneak attack” on women’s reproductive rights, the Senate leadership is poised to pass a budget that would funnel an additional $50,000 to anti-choice “crisis pregnancy centers.” The Senate budget carves out $300,000 from the Maternal & Child Health Block Grant to fund the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, an explicitly anti-choice organization that sustains more than half of North Carolina’s so-called crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs).  CPCs frequently manipulate and deceive women, often using propaganda to dissuade women from considering comprehensive birth-control options or legal abortion.

“Senator Berger’s priorities couldn’t be more out of touch.  Instead of increasing access to health care by expanding Medicaid and creating jobs for working families, Berger and the extreme majority are funneling 300,000 taxpayer dollars to groups that block women from making fully informed decisions about their own reproductive health,” said Suzanne Buckley, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina. “Regardless of how a person feels about legal abortion, we call all can agree that no one should ever be misled when seeking medical care and information,” she said.

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Background:
Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are facilities that often pose as comprehensive health-care centers, but use manipulation and medically inaccurate information to block women from considering abortion—or even birth control—as an option.  NARAL Pro-Choice NC Foundation’s investigation of CPCs in North Carolina in 2011 investigation revealed that of the 60 member organizations of Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship:
  • 94 percent had no medical professionals on their staff.
  • 46 percent promoted abstinence over contraception as the preferred method of prevention
  • 26 percent engaged in deceptive advertising in phonebooks, websites, and college publications.
  • More than half claimed that abortion usually results in so-called “post-abortion stress.”

NARAL Pro-Choice NC will continue to advocate for policies that promote comprehensive, unbiased and non-directive reproductive-health information and work to end the deceptive tactics of CPCs who attempt to block women from making fully informed choices about their reproductive options. 

Texas Cuts 2/3 of Family Planning Services

This year Texas cut 2/3 of its family planning services by defunding Planned Parenthood and drastically reducing the budgets of other family planning services in the state.  While many politicians claim it was to reduce government spending and save the state money, others are quite fine expressing this was an ideological attack, including Rep. Wayne Christian, a Republican from Nacogdoches who says they specifically targeted family planning because of the abortion debate.

Fifty-one percent of Texans are uninsured, including many who work full-time but cannot pay the ever-increasing cost of private insurance.   Health insurance premiums have soared 105 % in the last decade, forcing employers to raise deductibles or stop offering insurance altogether. These 6.5 million uninsured residents of Texas use hospitals and women’s health clinics to meet their medical needs.

There are 71 family planning and women’s health clinics in Texas.  This loss of funding will make it significant harder to provide those services to the low income population they treat.   These clinics will  be forced to close, cut staff, cut hours, cut services provided, and/or raise prices on services.  With this lack of access, many people will be forced to turn to the already overburden hospital system and county health departments.  Or they will eschew care all together with potentially devastating consequences.

At the end of the day, this will not even save the state money.  Birth Control is preventative care.  Without access to it, it is predicted that there will be 20,000 extra unintended pregnancies as a result.   Texas also spends $1.3 billion on teen pregnancy every year, the most of any state.  That does not even begin to cover what other negative consequences lack of health services will cause.  The state will also have to shoulder the costs of other health concerns that could have been treated early or prevented entirely if access to care was possible.

Planned Parenthood News

For anyone who is interested, here is a link to Judge James A. Beaty Jr.’s official 35-page ruling on Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina’s injunction against the state budget.

Five states defunded Planned Parenthood during the 2011 legislative session.  North Carolina, Indiana, and Kansas have since been sued by the affiliates in those states, and the affiliates have received injunctions.  All three federal judges have questioned the constitutionality of singling out Planned Parenthood for providing abortion services at some of its clinics, especially since already no tax-payer money is  used for abortion services.  This is certainly hopeful news for those of us who support Planned Parenthood, abortion rights, and the preventative healthcare services Planned Parenthood provides.

At the same time, in Arizona, Planned Parenthood will be forced to stop providing abortion in 7 clinics due to new abortion restriction laws.  Recently, the Court of Appeals overturned 2009 restrictions that make it so that a patient seeking abortion must meet with the abortion provider twice before the abortion can occur, and bars specially trained nurse practitioners from first-trimester surgical abortions or oral medical abortions.   As the study from the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology stated, there are very few physicians willing to perform abortion.  Even fewer willing or capable of traveling to the rural areas these clinics are located in.  Planned Parenthood, thus, has little option but to end abortion services at those clinics until physicians can be found.  Unsurprisingly, these restrictions are also not medically valid; the Arizona Board of Nursing has already stated that medical and surgical abortions performed by properly trained nurses are just as safe as those performed by doctors.  Making a patient attend two appointments is akin to a waiting period and is just another delay tactic to force patients to stay pregnant.

Planned Parenthood of Arizona is waiting to see what consequences will happen so they can build a more concrete case against the state.   I wish them luck and hope they will be able to make an irrefutable case against this violation of civil liberties.  Women in all of these states deserve to have their right to choice as accessible and available as possible.  Perhaps the end of 2011 will be better than the start.

Injunction for North Carolina!

Last Friday Judge James A. Beaty Jr. ordered that the state resume funding for the Planned Parenthood affiliates of North Carolina!  This is great news!

While it is only a preliminary injunction, Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina believes it is still a very good sign for future rulings.

From the News and Observer:

[Judge Beaty] found that Planned Parenthood would be likely to succeed at trial on several grounds:

Under the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, the state’s ban on funding would be pre-empted by federal law that makes the funding available.

Beaty noted the Kansas court found the ban was an unconstitutional “attempt to punish the plaintiff for its support of abortion rights,” a violation of the First and 14th Amendments.

He found the budget provision singled out a specific organization for punishment, which violates the bill of attainder clause that guards against “trial by legislature.” Comments Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam and Sen. Warren Daniel made in session support claims the group was targeted for abortion services.

So while the fight against the defunding is far from over, we do have something good to celebrate.  Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina and Planned Parenthood Health System, Inc. will not have to take drastic measures to keep providing health services to North Carolinians for now.  The law is on our side right now and hopefully in the future.  Helene Krasnoff, attorney for Planned Parenthood’s national office had this statement, which I think sums up nicely what has happened:

“Judge Beaty’s ruling confirmed what we already knew, and what our arguments and evidence made clear: This special provision is contrary to federal law, violates the constitutional rights of PPCNC and our patients, unconstitutionally penalizes Planned Parenthood, and has the effect of restricting access to health care for some of North Carolina’s most vulnerable populations.”

Injunction Watch: North Carolina Edition

Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina argued their case against the General Assembly’s decision to bar them from state and federal money today before Judge James Beaty Jr. in Greensboro last Wednesday.  He gave no indiction of when he will make his decision.  Injunctions have been granted to Planned Parenthood affiliates in both Kansas and Indiana where they were blocked from funding as well.

PPCNC claims that the state budget is unfairly and unconstitutionally punishing it and Planned Parenthood Health Systems Inc. (the state’s other affiliate) for providing abortion services.  PPCNC will have to close its Durham clinic, end a teen pregnancy prevention program and lay off 8 employees if federal family planning money is not restored by September.  No word on what measures Planned Parenthood Health Systems Inc. will have to take.

There are thousands of men and women throughout North Carolina who depend on Planned Parenthood to help keep them healthy.  Access to sexual and reproductive health care should not be a luxury for only people with insurance or money to pay for their needs.   Barring Planned Parenthood from state and federal money simply because it offers a safe, legal procedure and ignoring all the other preventative care it provides is ridiculous. It is also dangerous for all the people who do not have anywhere else to go.

We can only hope that Judge Beaty has the same sense as the judges in the other states and will see this for the unconstitutional, anti-choice agenda it is. It is a pity that we must now rely on the judicial system guarantee that all North Carolinians receive the life-saving services they deserve.