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Anti-Abortion Groups Receive Thousands in Funding from ‘Choose Life’ License Plates

As Texas law forces abortion clinics to turn patients away, anti-abortion centers receive $46,100 in new funds.
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"Choose Life" license plate

Today Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced the first recipients of funding from the state’s new “choose life” license plates. Thirteen organizations from Corpus Christi to Dallas will split $46,100 generated from the sales of almost 2,300 plates. The anti-abortion groups will use the money to provide services—mostly media advertising—promoting adoption over abortion.

In 2011, the Texas Legislature authorized the sale of specialty license plates exhorting Texas drivers to “choose life.” For $30, Texas drivers can purchase a cheerful kid-drawn plate and $22 will go toward anti-abortion organizations. Non-profits bid for the cash through a “competitive grant process.”

But it’s not that competitive. Applicants that provide abortions or have any affiliation with abortion providers are specifically barred from applying. A “Choose Life Advisory Committee,” comprising seven prominent figures in the anti-choice world, picked the winners.

The lucky recipients are all crisis pregnancy centers and anti-choice maternity homes, like Aggieland Pregnancy Outreach, Inc, which will receive $5,000 for “media advertising to promote adoption and the services of the organization”, or Corpus Christi Hope House, which is getting $5,000 to provide adoption training for staff and material assistance for pregnant women.

The Texas Medical Association condemns the methods crisis pregnancy centers use to persuade vulnerable women not to have abortions. Critics contend they use manipulative tactics to promote birth or adoption and provide misleading and scientifically-biased information. For example, they tell women that abortion causes suicidal thoughts and breast cancer, although there’s no medical evidence for such claims. They subject vulnerable clients to inaccurate yet graphic descriptions of the abortion procedure. In exchange for such biased counseling, the centers give women “mommy dollars” with which to buy baby gear from their stores.

Regardless, the state bankrolls scores of centers in Texas.

In an Observer investigation last year, we reported that crisis pregnancy centers had received $26.3 million in public money since 2005. The cash comes from state budgets for family planning, health screenings and preventive care. These crisis pregnancy centers do not provide any medical care to their clients, yet charge the state more per person than a family planning clinic would. Moreover, crisis pregnancy centers prefer chastity over prevention, so they dissuade their clients from using contraception that might protect them from sexually transmitted infections or further unplanned pregnancies.

Earlier this year, lawmakers channeled another $4.15 million per year into crisis pregnancy centers. Accordingly, five new center—in Clarksville, Leander, Odessa, Sulphur Springs and Paris—have joined the state-funded rolls, increasing the current number to 53.

Meanwhile, at least four family planning clinics closed this year for lack of public funding. This adds to the 60-plus that closed last year due to budget cuts, and the 14 abortion clinics that closed this month as a result of House Bill 2.

By the numbers

By the Numbers

  • fatibel

    It should be illegal to use public funds to spread medically and scientifically false information. But then we’d have to cut funding for more than just these crisis pregnancy centers wouldn’t we?

  • Garl Boyd Latham

    It’s interesting that the primary argument being used against “crisis pregnancy centers” (apart from being “anti-choice,” naturally) is their purported tendency to use misleading information in the course of their work, yet this article is guilty of the same thing!

    An example is the statement that “crisis pregnancy centers prefer chastity over prevention, so they dissuade their clients from using contraception that might protect them from sexually transmitted infections or further unplanned pregnancies.” Any “preference” for chastity over prevention involves sexual relations outside of marriage! Has our society truly become so base and immoral that we cannot understand the difference between pre- or extra-marital sex and the intimate physical relationship between a husband and wife?

    Never mind; I know the answer.

    Garl B. Latham

  • AngelaFromAbilene

    I want a “Pro Choice” license plate. The damn Republican whacko’s in the state want to force women to have children they don’t want and when those children are bors, those same whackos don’t want ot feed, provide healthcare or educate those lids. In what world does that make sense?!