Anti-abortion pregnancy centers will likely survive Roe’s age — here’s how they’re funded and the services they provide

(The Conversation is an independent, nonprofit source of news, analysis, and commentary from academic experts.)

(THE CONVERSATION) Experts predict increased economic hardship now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade in his decision Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

In the United States, three-quarters of abortion patients have incomes that put them below or just above the federal poverty line of $26,500 for a family of four in 2021. The inability to affording a child is among the most common reasons given by women when they explain why they terminate a pregnancy.

The anti-abortion movement is often criticized as caring little about these issues. But as a political scientist who has studied the intersections of abortion and social welfare issues, I was intrigued by a large but little-known subset of anti-abortion activists who claimed to support women during pregnancy and after childbirth.

My 2020 book on this “helping pregnancy” work says the anti-abortion movement is providing support to low-income families, even if not in the way its critics might prefer.

The “pregnancy aid” movement


This work occurs primarily within the charities of the anti-abortion movement. Participants in this “pregnancy-helping movement”, according to Margaret Hartshorn, the former president of one such organization, strive to make abortion “unwanted now and unthinkable for future generations” by ensuring “no woman ever feels pressured into having an abortion because of a lack of support or practical alternatives.

Members of the movement operate maternity homes, adoption and social service agencies, charitable medical practices, helplines, support groups and help networks. However, the central institutions of their movement are the centers of pregnancy. Pregnancy centers typically offer free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling and promises of material support in hopes of persuading women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term.

The first began to open in the United States in the late 1960s. They outnumbered abortion providers by at least 2013. A July 2018 directory listed 2,740 pregnancy centers in the United States. Lehigh University sociologist Ziad Munson writes that such outreach involves more people, volunteer hours and organizations than any other type of anti-abortion activism.

Based on my interviews with pregnancy center leaders and review of various communications from the movement, these organizations are primarily funded by individual donations, usually collected at banquets, walks, runs, or fundraisers. money and goods in the churches. Some anti-abortion groups like Focus on the Family and the Knights of Columbus give them grants.

Pregnancy centers are generally not affiliated with specific churches, although they often define themselves as ministries inspired by the love of Jesus Christ for people who are suffering and are marginalized.

In 13 states starting in 2021, pregnancy centers could apply for funding from state abortion alternatives programs. As of March 2022, as many as 19 states may have directed a portion of “Choose Life” license plate proceeds to pregnancy centers. An Associated Press survey of state budgets for fiscal year 2022 found that 12 states funded pregnancy centers, providing $89 million.

Centers can also apply for certain federal grants. According to a report on US pregnancy center services from the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion think tank, 17% of US centers received public funding in 2019.

By comparison, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which provides abortions and other reproductive health care services, said it received about $618 million — or 38% of its revenue — in government grants and payments for services during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020.

U.S. pregnancy centers in 2019, also according to the Lozier Institute, performed more than 730,000 pregnancy tests and saw nearly a million new clients.

As a reminder, the United States recorded 3.75 million live births that year. In 2017, according to the latest available data, just over 860,000 abortions were performed. A new peer-reviewed study of pregnant women who searched online for an abortion provider – suggesting they may be more internet savvy, older and more socioeconomically advantaged than abortion seekers in the United States in general – revealed that at least 13% of them visited a pregnancy center.

Help at the pregnancy center

Anti-abortion advocates describe pregnancy centers as a compassionate alternative to abortion. Abortion rights activists describe them as public health threats that mislead, offer few health care services, and infuse their advice with misinformation and emotional coercion.

My research did not attempt to assess the quality of advice provided by the centres. Rather, I focused on a general understanding and description of the movement and measuring the extent of the help they provide to families in need.

Similar to data I collected in 2012, a 2019 report from the Lozier Institute claimed that 94% of centers provided material assistance. The report credits U.S. pregnancy centers with distributing approximately 1.3 million packets of diapers, 690,000 packets of wipes, 2 million baby outfits, 30,000 new car seats and 20,000 strollers. They valued these assets at nearly $27 million. I also found that pregnancy centers provided one-on-one help navigating community resources for housing, health care, creditor mediation, and domestic violence recovery.

The activists told me that helping families meet their material needs was part of their missions, that they needed it badly, and simply “Christian” or “pro-life”. Available data suggests that the women who attend these centers are generally under 30 and unmarried.

My research also noted that pregnancy centers were increasingly linking material assistance to participation in their parenting programs.

Another trending service they offer is ultrasound imaging. The leaders I interviewed believed that offering a medical service could increase the credibility of the centers and that seeing an image of their fetus would encourage clients to “choose life”. Trained nurses overseen by an often off-site medical director “medical director” usually perform the scans, but otherwise critics rightly claim that most pregnancy center staff lack medical training.

Interviews with 21 clients of pregnancy centers over a period between 2015 and 2017 led medical sociologist Katrina Kimport of the University of California, San Francisco to conclude that “low-income women may find these centers to be significant and valued free emotional support, pregnancy-related services and material goods, even though the women ultimately needed more economic resources than the centers could provide and sometimes struggled to meet the demands of the program.

Kimport continued, “While these centers have been rightly criticized for disseminating scientifically inaccurate materials and employing potentially misleading practices, the political debate over their legitimacy needs to be more nuanced.

Help with pregnancy in a post-Roe America

Pregnancy center volunteers and staff I interviewed in 2012 overwhelmingly agreed that pregnancy centers would still be needed if the federal abortion law were revoked. Centers are already the most numerous, according to my statistical analysis of location data, where public opposition to abortion is highest, abortion rates are lowest, and abortion providers are fewest. . Some anti-abortion leaders are calling on the movement to follow Roe’s downfall with increased help for low-income people, some of whom are said to be going through pregnancy centers.

The kind of help offered by pregnancy support groups will not begin to cover all childbearing costs or address larger socio-economic issues. Many abortion-prone women probably do not view anti-abortion pregnancy centers as desirable service providers.

Yet they attract anti-abortion activists who seem to take what one interviewee called the “consequences of a life choice” seriously. In my view, they could potentially contribute constructively to a conversation about poverty and childbearing in a post-Roe America.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here: https://theconversation.com/anti-abortion-pregnancy-centers-will-likely-outlast-the-age-of-roe-heres-how-theyre-funded-and-the-services – they-provide-174922.

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