Take Action: Keep the promise of birth control coverage without a co-pay for all women

While we’re focused on what’s going on here in Virginia, we can’t forget about the attacks on reproductive choice and health that are continuing to take place in Congress and at the federal level.

From our colleagues at NARAL Pro-Choice America, we hear about the latest attempt by anti-choice groups to chip away at advances in women’s reproductive healthcare:

When the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) followed medical experts’ advice and announced that newly issued insurance plans must cover all FDA-approved birth-control methods without a copay, it marked one of the greatest improvements to women’s health in a generation.

Unfortunately, anti-contraception forces are trying to chip away at this achievement.

Led by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, these forces have launched a massive campaign to allow employers who oppose contraception to deny their employees a health plan that covers contraception.

Providing insurance coverage that includes birth control without an additional copay is an important preventative and cost-saving way to protect women’s reproductive health and enable them to make personal choices about whether and when to have children.

Ninety-eight percent of American women, of all faiths and backgrounds, will use birth control at some point in their lives. As we know, hormonal birth control can be essential medication not only for enabling women to plan the timing and spacing of their children (which helps improve maternal and child health outcomes), but also for helping women manage other aspects of their reproductive and overall health.

So what if these anti-birth control advocates win? Some women could be denied the benefits of this advance in contraception coverage just because of where they work.

You can help call on the White House today to stand strong with the women of America and make sure birth control coverage without co-pays is available to every woman, regardless of her employer. Take action on the NARAL Pro-Choice America website.

You can also call the White House comment line and give them your input over the phone! Call (202) 456-1111 and say something along the lines of: “I am calling regarding the new policy requiring health-insurance plans to cover birth control without a copay. I am concerned that religious employers may be allowed to opt out of this coverage requirement. I urge the president to ensure that all women have access to contraceptive coverage, regardless of where they work. “

Thank you for taking action!

Couple-Focused Services in Publicly Funded Family Planning Clinics

By Leigh

The Guttmacher Institute recently released a study entitled, “Couple-Focused Services in Publicly Funded Family Planning Clinics: Identifying the Need, 2009.” In sifting through the sixty-nine page report, I learned it essentially states that both males and females are interested in receiving counseling on family planning and birth control, but that clinic administrators often underestimate this desire for joint counseling.

According to the report, some people believe a joint discussion on family planning will reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy and alleviate the issue of misuse of contraception.

While women want services for couples, family planning administrators deal with limited funds, often underestimating couples’ desire for joint counseling.  Men would go to joint counseling if they could fit it in their schedule but definitely want some form of birth control.

I read the information without much thought or surprise, except for one bit, when I finally connected with the data.

I remember when my friends and I were younger and first talking to our parents about the birds and the bees. A common theme amongst my friends was that if you giggled at the condom aisle, you probably weren’t mature enough to have sex. The other agreed-upon truth was that if you couldn’t talk to your partner about sex, then you shouldn’t be sleeping with them in the first place. For me, this survey echoed some of these ideas – if you can’t discuss family planning, birth control, or your health with your partner, why are you engaging in sexual acts with them?

I was not surprised that two-thirds of adult female clients wished to talk to their male partner about “planning to have a baby, choosing and using birth control, and talking about birth control.”  But I was a little concerned that 19 percent of men felt uncomfortable at a family planning clinic and six percent even said they wouldn’t go with their partner. I couldn’t help but wonder, if a man can’t go to a clinic for a discussion, how is he going to survive the delivery room? Luckily, 83 percent of men did say they were willing to go with their female partner and 57 percent wanted to know more about preventing pregnancy.

Women’s health isn’t just a women’s issue. It’s a general health issue. Reproductive rights and health is a conversation we must all be willing to have. Everyone deserves to know where a partner stands on birth control and protection against sexually transmitted infections. Honest conversation, education and preparedness can help reduce the rates of STIs and unintended pregnancies.

So what do you think? Would you and your partner want the option to receive family planning services and counseling together?

Turning the Tide for Women’s Health

By Leigh

A recent poll in Politico shows 79 percent of adults in the U.S. “feel Congress has focused too much on abortion and not enough on things like preventive care, reproductive health and expanding access to birth control.”

This seems like promising statistic for women’s health in our country. However, the poll also revealed only 4 in 10 people would take the defunding of Planned Parenthood into consideration when voting. It seems like now, more than ever, constituents should be voting for candidates who support women’s health and work towards comprehensive health care. 

For example, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act passed overwhelmingly in the U.S. House. Though it aims to end abortion funding, it also has many detrimental effects on all aspects of women’s reproductive health. On the state level, Virginia’s General Assembly passed new legislation during the 2011 session to limit access to safe, legal abortion by singling out abortion providers for new, unnecessary regulations. This bill came in addition to a ban on private insurance coverage of abortion care and the renewal of nearly $900,000 in funding for failed, abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in our state.

While it’s reassuring the majority of Americans believe the policy focus should shift towards reproductive rights and preventive care, it’s discouraging that our elected officials spend so much time focusing on restricting women’s access to health care, instead of working on legislation that would protect and promote the well-being of everyone in this country.

This will surely be a critical year inVirginiafor turning the tide back in favor of women’s health. We currently have 92 legislators who are either mixed- or anti-choice. If we lose even two seats in the state Senate, we can expect the McDonnell Administration and its allies will launch a full-scale assault on women’s health in our state. It is essential that in the upcoming statewide elections Virginians vote for candidates that protect and not restrict education and health access for the women of the Commonwealth.

Maybe in the years ahead, with a little luck, this poll will read, “100 percent of elected officials are concerned with promoting and protecting women’s reproductive health, and 100 percent of Americans have access to contraception and preventive care they need and deserve.” We can start that trend here in Virginia.

Be sure to attend our next volunteer orientation on June 14 inAlexandria to learn more about what we will be doing to protect women’s health inVirginia this year and beyond.

And if you missed it, check out our new blog series profiling Virginia’s state politicians and their views and actions on women’s health.

A Critical Time to Pay Congress a Visit

By Brett Copeland

League of Young Leaders Co-Chair

No deal: It’s what we heard on Tuesday as House Leadership left the White House. We are coming down to zero-hour on the budget (or at least until the next Continuing Resolution). House Republicans have made it clear they’re willing to slash and burn whatever they can—no matter how many women and families it harms.

So, Pro-Choice Lobby Day on Capitol Hill comes at a critical time. Anti-choice leaders have moved not only to defund Planned Parenthood but also totally eliminate valuable Title X funding for family planning services. With more of the budget on the chopping block, there’s no telling what’s next.

That’s why a coalition of Pro-Choice supporters will be in the halls of Congress, talking to Representatives, Senators and their staff. We must ensure that our voice is heard loud and clear by anti-choice lawmakers who have shown they will say and do almost anything to erode fundamental reproductive human rights (including subjecting survivors of rape and incest who choose abortion care to audits by the Internal Revenue Service).

So what can you do?

If you’re in DC, Virginia or Maryland and can take off work, there’s still time to register to lobby. We’ll have on-site training as well as events throughout the day to keep you fed and on the move.

If you’re in DC, Virginia or Maryland and can’t take off work, you can always join us during our lunchtime rally on the National Mall.

But don’t worry—if you can’t do either of those things, but still want to help, visit NARAL Pro-Choice America’s Webpage—you can help sponsor our efforts on Lobby Day, make calls from home or, heck, buy a t-shirt.

We would also love to have you join us at our League of Young Leaders (LoYL) happy hour following lobby day. RSVP to get the full details.

The more people we have standing up and declaring that we’re Pro-Choice and proud of it, the better chance we’ll have at making an impact.

I’ll be there.

Will you?

Pro-choice and pro-woman

You have spoken up Virginia. In only two weeks, nearly 400 of our dedicated supporters and activists have signed our petition encouraging the new Chesterfield County crisis pregnancy center to commit to higher standards of accountability. You are by now familiar with our simple challenge to the “Pregnancy Help Center of Chester”:

Be honest and upfront in advertising and other communication with women.

Share only scientifically and medically accurate information.

Support comprehensive, science-based sex education in their community.

That’s it. This is not a difficult task. Any group that claims to support and assist women should have no problem being upfront with medically accurate, honest information and with what services one does and does not provide. A recent article in TIME Magazine has CPCs pretending to be victims. We know better. We know from our in-depth investigation of CPCs throughout Virginia, that they overwhelmingly promote inaccurate information (such as “all condoms have holes,” and abortion will lead to breast cancer), and purposely advertise as comprehensive health providers when they are anything but. Attempting to convince every woman to carry her pregnancy to term no matter what her circumstances in life or personal convictions, and supporting abstinence as the only acceptable contraceptive method is not comprehensive care. It is, plain and simple, bullying and insensitive propagation of ideology.

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia believes that the women of the commonwealth deserve better. We believe that all women deserve comprehensive, accurate, and unbiased information when making decisions about carrying a pregnancy to term. Some women will choose to carry the pregnancy to term and raise the child; some will choose to carry the pregnancy to term and place the child for adoption; some will choose to terminate the pregnancy. All of these women deserve the right to information and to make their own choice.

Choice is about trusting women. Simple as that. If we believe in the equality of women, and trust that women can and should decide what is best for their own lives, then we support the myriad of choices available to women concerning pregnancy. We support access to and information about all contraceptive methods, sex education, pre-, peri-, and post-natal care, adoption services, abortion services, paid family leave, access to areas for breastfeeding when returning to work after a pregnancy, and many more. Pro-choice is pro-woman, pro-family, pro-information.

This why challenging the “Pregnancy Help Center of Chester” specifically, and CPCs generally, is so important. We trust women, but we must fight to ensure that women have access to accurate and unbiased sources of information. Rhetoric and passion are necessary, but access is essential. Women must be able to go to comprehensive, full service medical providers, not misleading, ideology-based fake “clinics.”

Will the Chester CPC answer the challenge? Will they say and show that they trust women? Or will they be part of the same detrimental, anti-woman dogma? Let’s find out together. Help us protect choice in Virginia and raise awareness of CPCs by:

Contact us at  info@naralva.org if you have any questions about getting more involved.

Yours in choice.

Time magazine misses some key points in story about CPCs

A brand-new TIME article about “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) mentioned our nearly year-long, substantive investigation into identifiable CPCs in the commonwealth of Virginia. If you haven’t read the report, be sure to check out all our findings for yourself. We are excited that national media like TIME magazine are highlighting the amazing work of our volunteers and staff to stop these deceptive facilities. But we don’t think the article painted the whole picture about our amazing work.

Crisis pregnancy centers are deceptive facilities. They purposefully mislead and overwhelmingly provide inaccurate information to women concerning pregnancy-related options. NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and our supporters and volunteers have worked arduously to promote accurate and science based information and access to all resources for pregnant women. We have worked to ensure that the Virginia “Choose Life” license plate revenue does not go to suspect (and potentially non-existent) entities. (The Washington Post published an article that exposed how one CPC getting money doesn’t even exist.) We have worked to ensure that college campuses do not refer students to centers that will not provide medically accurate information. We have worked to ensure that CPCs do not utilize deception and evasion to trick people into coming into their facilities, by asking student health centers and the state legislature to support and promote policies that simply ask CPCs to be honest about what services they do (and do NOT) provide. This should not be difficult for any organization that truly has nothing to hide.

In addition to this work that we have, and will continue to do, we are challenging any new crisis pregnancy centers to hold themselves accountable. When we learned of a new CPC opening in Chesterfield County, Virginia, we launched a petition asking that the clinic hold themselves to a higher standard and commit to being honest and upfront in their advertising and other communication with women, sharing only scientifically and medically accurate information, and supporting comprehensive, science-based sex education in their community.

As we said from the beginning, no matter where a person stands on the issue of abortion, no one believes women should be mislead about their health-care options.

We will continue to work for the people of Virginia to make sure they have access to accurate information, access to and knowledge of all their options, and access to all choices, whatever they deem appropriate for their own lives.

We are pro-choice  Virginia!

Reproductive Healthcare for All

Many thanks to our intern, Claire, for her work on this post.

By now, you probably have heard a lot about Arizona’s newest immigration measure, SB 1070. The new law, which was signed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on April 23 and will go into effect at the end of July, makes it a crime to be in the country without proper paperwork and requires police to question individuals about their status if they are suspected undocumented immigrants. It is widely regarded as our country’s most extreme anti-immigration measure and sets a dangerous precedent for other states to adopt similar legislation. This bill has already been analyzed from several angles – politically, economically, even in terms of professional athletics – but its implications for reproductive justice have not yet drawn appropriate attention. More than half of all immigrants are women – what will SB 1070 mean for them and their access to safe, legal, comprehensive reproductive services?

Recently, NARAL VA ally SisterSong came out in opposition to SB 1070, raising valid concerns about the law’s effect of immigrant women’s access to these vital reproductive services. SisterSong Deputy Coordinator Laura Jimenez writes that the “The ripple effect of such a measure will be the heightened sense of fear and trauma within the community, leading to hesitancy to seek social services, including medical and emergency services. Will immigrant women feel safe enough to even attempt to access reproductive health care services such as family planning or obstetric and gynecological care?”

The question of whether immigrant women will feel safe to access reproductive health services after this law goes into effect is a big concern – especially considering the fact that immigrant women, regardless of their legal status, are already incredibly vulnerable. For example, a recent Amnesty International report found that six out of 10 Central American women are raped in Mexico, as they make on the way to the United States. Now, SB 1070 would increase the gulf of trust between law enforcement agents and immigrant communities, compounding the problems of immigrant women. A Jezebel article points out that “once in the United States, if these women suffer some of the violence that all women can suffer — partner violence and rape, for starters — the fear of law enforcement leaves them little recourse. The Arizona law essentially ensures that this will be the case, as it requires that police request identification from anyone they think might be in the country illegally.”

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health also recognizes SB 1070’s catastrophic implications for reproductive justice of all immigrants, pointing out that immigrant women are already “less likely to receive adequate reproductive health care, including cervical and breast cancer screening and treatment, family planning services, HIV/AIDS testing and treatment, accurate sex education and culturally and linguistically competent services” because they are more likely to work in industries that are underpaid, lack basic worker protections, and offer no benefits. The Institute goes on to declare that “reproductive health and rights organizations who promote the basic values of dignity, justice, and self-determination MUST speak out in support of the basic principles of immigration reform, which include a path to citizenship and protection for all immigrant families.”

The bill was also criticized by President Obama, who said it would “undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.” We at NARAL VA believe that all women should be trusted to make their own decisions about reproductive health and rights, so it is inherently problematic that this bill undermines the trust between women and those who could provide them with comprehensive reproductive health services. We stand with SisterSong, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and countless other organizations in condemning Arizona’s SB 1070, in the best interests of all communities across our nation.

We’re keeping our eye on things here in Virginia as well to ensure all those in commonwealth have access to affordable and accessible reproductive health care. In fact, keep your ears open to learn more about our upcoming summer project to ensure that all Virginians- including those who speak English as a second language - have access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare.

Oklahoma… where the legislature comes attacking women

Anti-choice forces are hard at work in Oklahoma, and their recent successes are an omen of things to come, especially with the ways things are looking in Virginia.

The Oklahoma legislature passed two very harmful laws, both of which were vetoed by the Governor. The legislature then overturned the veto, despite the Governor’s very valid concerns.

One of the measures forces women seeking an abortion to not only have an ultrasound–a medically unnecessary procedure that increases the cost while attempting to shame women–but also requires that the monitor be placed so a woman must see it as the doctor or technician describes the heart, limbs, and organs of the fetus. Several states force ultrasounds, but Oklahoma is the first to force women to look at it.

Governor Brad Henry’s problem with this bill was that it didn’t include an exemption for women who are pregnant as a result of rape or incest and because it allows an unconstitutional intrusion to women’s privacy. He believes that “State policymakers should never mandate that a citizen be forced to undergo any medical procedure against his or her will, especially when such a procedure could cause physical or mental trauma. To do so amounts to an unconstitutional invasion of privacy.”

This is certainly a concern, but an exemption is not the only issue. Forced ultrasounds are a problem for many more reasons. For one, if a woman is in the earliest stages of a pregnancy (when the majority of abortions are performed), the only way to do an ultrasound is vaginally–they insert a long probe into the vagina. As a medically unnecessary procedure, this is especially disturbing as it is a forced intrusion into a woman’s body, and don’t forget that there is no exception to this for rape survivors.

Senator Rice, who voted against the bill, attempted to explain this to his colleges by saying, “You have to invasively put an instrument inside the woman. This could be your 15-year-old daughter who was raped,” but unfortunately, they would not be swayed, claiming that the procedure is necessary to help ‘educate’ women.

Futhermore, all ultrasounds cost money. Measures such as this add to the costs of an already expensive medical procedure that is rarely covered by insurance.

The other factor that seems to motivate forced-ultrasounds is a deep disrespect for women and a belief that women do not think before making decisions. These legislators are insinuating that a woman who chooses abortion isn’t taking that choice seriously and that she hasn’t thought about all that it entails.

In our experience, there is noting father from the truth.

Women must be trusted to make medical decisions with their doctors. It is not the legislature’s job second-guess or force unnecessary procedures in hopes of promoting ideological agendas!

The second measure that the Oklahoma legislature passed is equally disturbing. It prevents women from suing their doctors for purposefully withholding information about their fetus being disabled. The bill’s sponsors claim that it protects doctors from women who have “regrets” after giving birth to disabled children and who wish they had been counseled to abort, but it is very clearly a law that tells doctor’s that they are allowed to lie to their patients.

“It is unconscionable to grant a physician legal protection to mislead or misinform pregnant women in an effort to impose his or her personal beliefs on a patient,” said the Oklahoma governor. We couldn’t agree more.

That any state thinks they can legalize doctors intentionally lying to or misleading a patient about their health is a crime against Oklahomans and against the medical profession. If patients cannot trust their doctors, they have no motivation to seek care or follow advice given to them by their doctors. Furthermore, not preparing the parents and hospital staff of a disability in advance can put the child’s life at risk. This becomes especially risky in rural areas; without specialized medical staff and equipment, the child who needs immediate, specialized care is put in life-threatening danger.

Oklahoma has already passed laws forcing clinics to post signs stating that a woman cannot be forced to have an abortion and a measure making it illegal to have an abortion based on the sex of the fetus.

Up next on the legislative agenda: forcing women to fill out a 38-question long survey about their reasons for having an abortion, her race, age, education, marital status, method of payment, and previous pregnancies, statistics from which will be posted on the internet–once again, attempting to shame women exercising their rights to choose abortion and burdening clinics in an attempt to prevent them from conducting business–and a law restricting insurance coverage for abortion.

The ultrasound bill is already being challenged in court as unconstitutional by the Center for Reproductive Rights. The lawsuit alleges that the law violates freedom of speech for the doctor, as well as the right to equal protection and right to privacy for the woman. As a CRR spokesperson said, “These laws threaten women’s health by reducing access to safe abortion care. They really humiliate women who are seeking abortion and fail to accord them the dignity that they ought be accorded by law.”

By the time this law is found unconstitutional and struck down, we predict Oklahoma will have already added exponentially to the hurdles women face in obtaining abortions. One of Oklahoma’s three clinics has already reported that women are leaving the room in tears after the forced-ultrasound, though not one of them has changed their mind. As the chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma said, “They just throw down one roadblock after another in front of women and hope maybe they will give up.” We know women won’t give up and we’re prepared to fight here in Virginia to protect these rights to medical care and choice.

The following were used as resources and/or are interesting for further reading:

Strict Abortion Measures enacted in Oklahoma [NYTimes]

Oklahoma Lawmakers At It Again [Daily Kos]

Oklahoma Governor Vetoes 2 Abortion Bills [Boston Herald]

Okla. Mandates Invasive Medical Procedures [Washington Monthly]

Oklahoma Abortion Law: no Exceptions, Even Rape [ABC]

Does Oklahoma’s Abortion Law Legalize Rape? [feministing]

Oklahoma Passes Country’s Most restrictive Anti-Abortion Laws [AlterNet]

State of Choice in Oklahoma, in Virginia

CPCs on the National Front!

Sign Change.org’s National Petition to put an end to deceptive advertising by crisis pregnancy centers all over the nation!

Sign here: http://www.change.org/petitions/view/stop_false_advertising_by_crisis_pregnancy_centers!

Petition TextStop False Advertising by and Federal Funding for Fake Clinics

Dear Congressional leader,

I am outraged that fake clinics, or so-called Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), deceptively advertise as comprehensive women’s health clinics, provide false and misleading information about birth control and abortion and often receive federal funding.

A Congressional study found that 87% of so-called Crisis Pregnancy Centers provide false and misleading information by telling women that abortion is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, infertility, and mental illness including suicide, and tell women that condoms won’t protect against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. The American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the World Health Organization all dispel these false claims.

Furthermore, the Hatch Amendment to the health care reform bill reinstates $250 million in federal funding, over five years, for failed abstinence-only Title V programs. Fake clinics, or so-called CPCs, in states that opt into the Title V program will be able to receive millions of dollars in federal funding and this is an outrage!

I urge you to support federal legislation that would stop fake clinics’ deceptive advertising practices, require that medically accurate information is provided, and eliminate ALL federal funding for fake clinics!

[Your name]

Making Pregnancy Centers Tell the Truth- Austin, TX

Jordan Smith  Fri Apr 2, 10:12am
On the Austin City Council’s agenda for its April 8 meeting is a proposed ordinance that would require so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” to post a sign to notify consumers that they do not provide or make referrals for either abortion or contraceptive services.

If the ordinance is enacted, Austin would become the second city in the nation to provide the consumer alert for clients visiting CPCs – unlicensed centers that provide pregnancy tests and pregnancy “counseling,” but do not offer any medical services. “We are simply requiring limited service pregnancy centers to disclose what is factual and true about the services they offer,” Council member Bill Spelman, who is sponsoring the ordinance, said in a press release.The city of Baltimore passed a similar ordinance late last year; on March 29, the Archdiocese of Baltimore filed a federal suit against the city, arguing that the ordinance violates the free speech and religion rights of the city’s CPCs. “Not only does the Ordinance single out pro-life centers for its requirements under threat of criminal penalties, the Ordinance regulates communications at the Center that are personal, moral, religious, and political,” reads the lawsuit.

To be clear, the Baltimore ordinance – like that proposed by Spelman (and co-sponsored by Laura Morrison and Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez) – defines the centers as “limited-service pregnancy centers” and requires only that those facilities that do not provide the range of reproductive health services post a notice to that effect. Indeed, as with the proposed Austin ordinance, the Baltimore law does not require any CPC to actually provide or make referrals for either of those services.

The Austin ordinance would likely apply to a handful of CPCs in the city, and is said by its authors not meant to hurt their businesses – rather, it is meant, as a “truth-in-advertising” law, to protect women, as consumers. “Regardless of how one feels about birth control or safe, legal abortion, this ordinance is about providing accurate information,” said Martinez.

The city of Austin has a high rate of sexually transmitted diseases among young people (according to the local Planned Parenthood, the rate of STDs here in 2009 earned Austin the dubious distinction of ranking in the top 40 out of more than 800 Planned Parenthood facilities nationwide); and the number of teen pregnancies in the state has earned Texas the number three spot in the nation, and the top spot for the teen birthrate, according to the latest trend report released by the Guttmacher Institute in January. Given the grim statistics, it simply makes sense to ensure that women, especially when confronting an unplanned pregnancy, have all the factual information, and resources, they might need. “”This ordinance is targeting some of our most vulnerable consumers,” said Sarah Wheat, vice president of community affairs for Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region. “They deserve as much information as they can get to make informed decisions.” Knowing what you’re getting, and what you aren’t, when you go to a CPC is a good thing, she said – “information is good.”

It seems likely that the proposal will spark some angry feedback – CPC supporters, most staunch foes of abortion, have long been loud, both in the city (as it was with the Central Health board of directors meeting last year during a debate over whether to approve $450,000 in contracts to provide abortion care to low-income and uninsured women through the county’s Medical Assistance Program), and at the Capitol (witness the perennial marathon hearings before the House State Affairs Committee whenever the topic of abortion arises).While locally those voices have not been successful – over at the Capitol it is an entirely different story.

Indeed, in 2005 lawmakers took $5 million that would otherwise go to providers of traditional family-planning services for low-income women to create (via a budget rider) the new “Alternatives to Abortion” program, as a way to directly fund CPCs and task them with “promoting childbirth.” In a series of articles, the Chronicle found that the money hasn’t exactly done much to provide women with any real services – aside from referring them to other state and federal programs, and providing a nice annual raise for Vincent Friedewald, the executive director of the Texas Pregnancy Care Network, which administers the state contract. Still, in the 2009 session – a bad budget year – lawmakers allocated an additional $3 million over the biennium for the program, boosting the Alternative to Abortion budget by a whopping 60%.

In spending that money, the state-funded CPCs are not required to be licensed or regulated, nor are they required to provide any medical services at all. The city of Austin proposed ordinance is only seeking to make clear what services a woman can expect when visiting a CPC: “Women facing an unintended pregnancy need to understand what services are available to them,” Morrison said in a press release. “This ordinance helps ensure that.”