The centers are often not medically licensed facilities and are known to dissuade women against abortion care.
Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature—known for speaking frequently about “waste, fraud, and abuse” of government spending—are taking steps to send $1 million from taxpayers to organizations that claim to be “crisis pregnancy centers” but use deception and other tactics to coerce women away from abortion care.
On Oct. 17 the state Senate sent a bill to the Assembly allocating $1 million for Choose Life Wisconsin, which would fund crisis pregnancy centers across the state. The centers are not accredited healthcare clinics.
“They are not healthcare centers,” said Dr. Kristin Lyerly, an obstetrician-gynecologist. “They market themselves as healthcare providers, but they are not licensed. They have no obligation to protect your privacy and they don’t have to give you accurate information—and often they don’t. I’ve seen patients who have gone to crisis pregnancy centers thinking they were getting healthcare and they show up in my office with a picture of their bladder that they were told was their uterus.”
Lyerly said it’s not unusual for these centers to intentionally delay promised care long enough so a pregnancy extends beyond the legal limit on abortion—a delay that can cause harm to women with complicated pregnancies.
Speaking on UpNorthNews Radio, Sen. Kelda Roys (D-Madison) slammed the centers for spreading lies and rumors instead of providing comprehensive and accurate medical information.
“They falsely link abortion to breast cancer and other health risks. They say abortion can make you infertile,” Roys said. “All of these things are simply not true. And they do that with the intent to both dissuade women from getting abortions, but also to delay them from accessing care.”
According to the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, there are about 3,000 “crisis pregnancy centers” or “pregnancy resource centers” around the country. The group says they are “usually strategically located near hospitals and abortion clinics in order to confuse or harass women.” They may offer free ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, and diapers, despite often having no doctors or licensed medical professionals on the premises. The group says centers in 14 states, including Wisconsin, received $40.5 million in taxpayer funds in 2018 “at the expense of legitimate public health and public assistance programs.”
If the Assembly approves the funding, the bill faces a possible veto by Gov. Tony Evers.
Sen. Baldwin Urges Better Birth Control Access
On Monday, Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin joined other senators in urging the Biden Administration to require more health insurance plans to cover over-the-counter contraceptives with no copays or out-of-pocket costs, and without a prescription requirement.
“Given the increased need for access to contraception in the wake of the Dobbs decision, this issue is incredibly timely and important,” Baldwin and 47 colleagues said in a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Department of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and the Department of Labor Acting Secretary Julie Su.
Opill, the first over-the-counter birth control pill to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, will become available in early 2024.
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