You probably think of people who are against abortion, birth control, and premarital sex as being extremists. Yes, they’re fighting at every turn to challenge Roe V Wade, but they are only whittling it down. But the main right to make our own medical choices is Constitutionally protected so everything is okay.
… But it’s not.
In Cosmopolitan’s August issue, Meaghan Winter revealed alarming results from a yearlong investigation into crisis pregnancy centers that show a network of anti-abortion, anti-birth control, and anti-sex extremists that is not only funded with your tax dollars, but is often the only option.
Winter writes, “… behind the scenes, an orchestrated network of donors, lawyers, lobbyists, and state representatives supports the individual centers.”
It’s not just in red states, either. This is happening all over the country, and you are paying for it with tens of millions of federal and state tax dollars. Here’s one young woman’s experience at Care Net center “that advertised free ultrasounds alongside information on ’emergency contraception’ and ‘abortion education’.”
As told to Cosmopolitan, “Nicole” was trying to get an ultrasound so she could then travel hundreds of miles to get the morning after pill:
Inside, a receptionist behind a counter instructed Nicole to provide a urine sample in the bathroom. Then a nurse and a younger woman, about Nicole’s age, brought her to a small room with a couch. For 45 minutes, they showed her Bible verses and pamphlets on adoption and an embryo’s development. Nicole says, “The nurse really, really slowed down during the fetal pain part. She said, ‘Here are the fingertips. The baby feels everything you’re feeling.'” They told Nicole having an abortion might complicate future pregnancies and cause suicidal thoughts — both common myths. This is B.S., Nicole kept thinking, but you’re trying to make me think it’s true.
During the ultrasound, the nurse said the images weren’t clear and she needed to do a transvaginal scan. “She didn’t explain anything or say, ‘We’re going to stick this cone inside you,'” Nicole says, agitated. The nurse displayed the embryo on a screen, pointed to its features, and printed the images. The younger women prayed over Nicole and asked to be invited to her baby shower. The next week, ultrasound results in hand, Nicole drove more than six hours, following a two-lane highway across Wyoming and staying overnight in a hotel, to reach an abortion provider in Denver.
These places are the only place to turn:
Every year, thousands of women like Nicole seek help at what appear to be secular medical clinics but are actually Christian anti-abortion centers. Throughout the United States, there are at least 3,000 crisis pregnancy centers, many of which belong to two religious anti-abortion organizations—Care Net and Heartbeat International. Some women arrive at those centers in search of Christian counseling or free diapers, but the vast majority are looking for professional advice to help them navigate unplanned pregnancies.
Increasingly, pregnancy centers are what’s available. Around the country, access to abortion has eroded dramatically. As abortion regulations shutter medical clinics offering the full range of options, a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy finds herself in a very different landscape, one in which a pregnancy center is her most visible, most affordable—and sometimes the only—place to turn.
How did we get here with a Democratic President who supports women’s health and just found a way to ensure that Hobby Lobby decision wouldn’t mean that women no longer had access to birth control through their insurance? Not only have Republicans been pushing anti-liberty bills in states across the country, especially since 2010 when they really picked up steam, but our Congress has aided and abetted them. Sure, Congress is unable to pass immigration reform and they can’t manage a jobs bill, but they always have time to restrict women’s rights.
In 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the center a federal grant of $352,125 to teach abstinence education in public schools. Over the years, government funding for abstinence programs has aided the mushrooming of pregnancy centers. Despite proposals by the Obama administration to reduce funding, Congress has continued and even increased it in recent years, explains Monica Rodriguez, president of the nonprofit Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. This spring, Congress has already set aside $75 million for the latest abstinence-only-until marriage program — an increase of 50 percent. The House budget proposed in June would double the program that funds Options Pregnancy Center, while eliminating all funding for health centers that provide birth control.
Of course, the only way to reduce abortions really is to provide birth control. Abstinence Only doesn’t work, and there is no better proof of this than their spokesperson Bristol Palin, who is on her second premarital pregnancy. 2015 began with 332 anti-choice provisions in just three months.
It’s absolutely an alarming and profound theft of liberty for our tax dollars to fund a religious belief against a Constitutionally protected right. That young women with few resources are forced to drive out of state to get a safe abortion, after undergoing a shame and guilt inducing lecture and invasive and unnecessary medical procedures, is outrageous.
No one is “pro-abortion”, but those who have though it through realize that in order to be pro-women’s liberty, we must ensure that women have the final say over their bodies. We must protect the right of each citizen to make their own medical decisions and be in charge of their own bodies. The precedent otherwise is unthinkable.
We try to prevent abortion by doing the one thing that works– making birth control accessible. Shaming women by lying to them isn’t working. But everyone already knows that. And yet, our tax dollars are funding the opposite of “religious freedom”. This country was founded on the principle that we would be free from religion if we chose, and that religious extremists would not get into power to make law for good reason.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.