HARRISBURG, October 28, 2022 – State Senator Katie Muth (D- Berks/Chester/Montgomery), chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, today joined state Senator Judy Schwank (D-Berks) and Senator Amanda Cappelletti (D-Montgomery/Delaware) to host a hearing to explore the issues and history of state funding for so-called crisis pregnancy centers.
The hearing, which was the second held by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee on the topic of anti-abortion centers, took place at the Capitol in Harrisburg and featured testimony from medical professionals, students, a former volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center, and an advocate for the so-called crisis pregnancy centers.
“No one seeking healthcare should have to worry about whether or not they are being deceived or lied to about the actual available medical care they are seeking. We have heard so many horror stories about the deceptive practices and agendas of anti-abortion centers over these two policy hearings,” Muth said. “We need to do more to protect pregnant women and we need to ensure they have access to evidence-based care and fact-based information from real, licensed medical professionals.”
Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are nonprofit organizations masquerading as reproductive health centers whose primary purpose is to dissuade pregnant people from considering abortion care. These mostly religious-based organizations exist to discourage and limit access to all available reproductive healthcare options and delay necessary prenatal and medical care.
“Prenatal and postpartum services are vitally important and should be subject to stringent health and safety requirements from qualified professionals. Not all anti-abortion centers operate with the same levels of deception,” Schwank, the Chair of the Women’s Health Caucus, said. “There are plenty that clearly indicate their affiliations and pro-life agenda. Our concern is for the centers that are strategically and deliberately misleading people about the services that they offer.”
In submitted testimony, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) noted that Pennsylvania is one of a few states that use a portion of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds to support what are called ‘alternatives to abortion services’ that are required to promote pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. Eligible grantees under the language in Pennsylvania law may not “promote, refer for or perform abortions or engage in any counseling which is inconsistent with” the stated mission of the promotion of childbirth. Since the 2014-15 fiscal year, Pennsylvania has distributed $60 million to Real Alternatives, $51 million of which is straight from state tax dollars. Real Alternatives declined to participate in today’s policy hearing to answer questions.
“Anti-abortion centers have no place in our healthcare system. Women and pregnant people must be able to access the appropriate reproductive and pre-natal healthcare that best suits their needs,” Cappelletti added. “As long as anti-abortion centers are operational, they will continue to use their deceitful tactics to prevent women and pregnant people from receiving the care that they need.”
Participants in the hearing included Dr. Courtney Schreiber, Chief, Division of Family Planning, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania; Sarah Bowen, Executive Director, Promise of Life Network; Caitlin Chubb, Clinical Supervisor, Mindful Changes Counseling; and students from the University of Pittsburgh.
All submitted testimony from the policy hearing and the full video is available at SenatorMuth.com/Policy.
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Meg Snead, Acting Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS)