Alison Espach | Correspondent | Wednesday, June 21, 2006
The National Abortion Federation (NAF) complained in its recently released report -- entitled "Crisis Pregnancy Centers: An Affront to Choice" -- that abortion centers do not receive enough taxpayer dollars and are cheated out of the funds Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) receive.
A 1996 federal welfare reform law allocated $50 million to abstinence-only-until-marriage programs -- out of which CPCs receive a small portion, according to Kristin Hansen, vice president of communications for Care Net. As of 2002, $6 million went to centers that described themselves as CPCs.
"They talk about funding issues, and there is a huge disparity between what Planned Parenthood and other groups have received over the years of taxpayers' dollars, and pregnancy centers have received very, very little," said Hansen.
According to its annual report, Planned Parenthood received $272.2 million from American taxpayers in 2005 under Title X, Medicaid, federal grants and state funding.
But Hansen was careful to note that the CPCs benefiting from taxpayer money comply with government guidelines that all religious activity be separated from any publicly funded service. Accordingly, the faith-based pregnancy centers criticized in the report are privately -- not federally -- funded.
The Rockville Pregnancy Center, cited several times in the NAF report for its "religious agenda" and alleged banners reading "Babies Saved From Abortions" and "Salvations," claim the accusations are not only false, but also irrelevant because that CPC is not funded by the government.
"We get by on private donations," said Gail Tierney, director at the Maryland center.
As Cybercast News Service previously reported, the NAF report isn't the first time CPCs have been accused of being dishonest about their religious backgrounds.
On March 30, a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) promised a "crackdown on deceit" to prevent women from "being lured into anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers."
At the time, a Care Net spokeswoman called the charge as an "old, recycled" attack on facilities that help women find alternatives to abortion.
But on Tuesday, the claim that CPCs are cheating other clinics out of taxpayer dollars was not the only accusation that fired up personnel at the centers.
Also in its report, the NAF quotes the Pearson Institute, which was started in the 1970s to teach other anti-abortion centers how to open, as saying: "Obviously, we're fighting Satan. A killer, who in this case is the girl who wants to kill her baby, has no right to information that will help her kill her baby."
But the report fails to mention that the Pearson Institute is no longer in operation because its approach was rejected by the pregnancy center community.
"They are taking information that is 35 years old and doing a broad paint brush sweep of all centers across America," said Tierney.
The report also criticizes the Care Net Manual as forbidding volunteers to suggest contraceptives to the client.
Hansen stated that the noted manual "is out of date," and Care Net has since replaced it; but the NAF cites it as evidence that CPCs do not require medical background for any medical practices.
"It is absolutely not true," she said. "The old manual talks about requirements for volunteers at non-medical centers. Of our new manuals, there are all sorts of examples of job descriptions for all the medical personnel.
"Any center that would offer any medical services, such as ultrasound, must absolutely be supervised by a medial director or the appropriate staff," noted Hansen, who added that Care Net's new policy is to provide thorough contraceptive information.
The CPCs were also criticized for "targeting black women," a statement Hansen said was very ironic.
"We have found that abortion clinics actually are targeting minority women in urban areas when you take a look at where they set up," she said. "They may be fewer in number, but they are in locations where minority women live in urban areas."
Yet, the NAF insists that people should encourage lawmakers to stop government funding for the CPCs' "deceptive" and "religious agenda," an agenda -- according to both Care Net and the Rockville Pregnancy Center -- that was never funded by the government in the first place.
"We do not have a vested interest in her final decision. We make no money, so we can afford to be objective," said Tierney.
According to Planned Parenthood's annual report, that organization made $882 million in its 2004-2005 Fiscal Year.
"Now the anti-life people do have an agenda, they do have a vested interest in her decision, and they are the ones who deceive women," said Tierney.
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