Crisis Pregnancy Centers are set to receive a $2 million dollar increase in funding—and $9 million total—from the Pennsylvania state budget. CPCs are anti-abortion centers that dissuade women from seeking reproductive medical services.
Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), which mislead women about the reproductive health services they offer and discourage abortion care and contraception, are set to get a $2.1 million increase in public funding in the proposed 2023-2024 Pennsylvania budget, bringing the total amount of money they stand to receive from the commonwealth to over $9.2 million.
Senate Republicans slipped this increase into the budget before they left Harrisburg for the summer. The budget, which is currently at a standstill, passed the Democratic-controlled state House last week, but has to go through parliamentary procedures in the Senate before reaching Gov. Josh Shapiro’s desk.
It’s possible the new CPC funding could be removed, but as it stands, CPCs are double-funded through the budget. They receive $8.2 million dollars from the Department of Human Services under the “women’s services programs” line item and another $1 million through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
The Republican-dominated Pennsylvania General Assembly has funneled over $7 million from the TANF program to CPCs over the past several years. The TANF program is a cash assistance program designed to help pregnant women or single parent households. There are over 28,000 families in Pennsylvania that benefit from the TANF program, but money is being taken away from them to fund Pennsylvania’s anti-abortion movement.
Since Pennsylvania began funding CPCs in the late 1990’s, they have received over $100 million dollars from the state to fund their anti-abortion cause. CPCs often advertise themselves as offering a full range of reproductive healthcare, but do not offer abortion care and often exist solely to dissuade and deceive women from seeking abortion care.
Tara Murtha, the director of Strategic Communications at the Women’s Law Project, a public interest legal organization, explained how CPCs have grown and gained power in the anti-abortion movement in recent decades.
“CPCs [in Pennsylvania] outnumber legitimate evidence-based healthcare providers that provide abortion care nine to one, which really mirrors the South more than other states in the Northeast, and part of that is due to the rampant public funding—public money that’s been diverted to anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers in Pennsylvania,” Murtha said.
According to a study conducted by The Alliance, an organization that advocates for women’s rights and gender equality, there are 156 CPCs in Pennsylvania and only 17 abortion clinics.
A recent lawsuit filed in Massachusetts underscores the dangers CPCs present to women. The plaintiff in the case, who has been kept anonymous, alleges that a nurse at the CPC failed to recognize an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when an embryo grows outside the uterus.
These types of pregnancies aren’t viable and abortion care is required because if left untreated, they can cause internal bleeding and threaten the health and life of the mother—which is what happened with the plaintiff in the case. She had to undergo emergency surgery a month following her visit to the CPC because her fallopian tube ruptured.
Giving more public funding to these facilities that can endanger women’s health is “outrageous,” Murtha said.
“Increasing funding for anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers in Pennsylvania ignores the warnings and pleadings of public health experts, reproductive health advocates, physicians in Pennsylvania, scholars, good government watchdogs, former Pennsylvania officials and victims of CPCs that are in the news,” Murtha said. “Most importantly, Pennsylvania voters who overwhelmingly support abortion rights and just voted in droves to evict anti-abortion leadership out of our state house and bring an abortion rights supporter governor into the mansion.”
“So to have an increase in public dollars being funneled to anti-abortion activists in the wake of losing our federal right to an abortion and in the wake of all these warnings of what the public wants is outrageous,” she said.