Minnesota, seen as abortion haven, still funds ‘crisis pregnancy centers’

Fifty years after Roe v. Wade’s decision and seven months after it was overturned, Governor Tim Walz is set to release an updated budget. Center” is a non-medical anti-abortion organization that deceives and discourages pregnant people from having an abortion.

Since 2005, Minnesota has donated more than $3 million to taxpayers each grant cycle to 25 centers under the Positive Alternatives Grant, a program created by former Governor Tim Pawlenty to discourage abortion. has provided funding for

Now that the DFL holds the state, Walz says he is ready to end the program, citing false information.

“I think there’s a lot of misinformation that’s come out of it … I think women are more appropriate than that. I think they deserve the full picture,” he told MPR News in January.

That’s what Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison issued a consumer alert to in August against “emergency pregnancy centers,” based on a 2021 study of nine states, including Minnesota. later. He defined them as “private organizations that try to prevent people from accessing abortion care and contraceptives.”

Those who support these centers claim they provide essential services and have expanded nationwide after Roe.

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But a study by The Alliance: State Advocates for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (called “designed to deceive”) found that statewide “emergency pregnancy centers” provided little real medical care. rice field. The most common services offered were pregnancy tests, ‘free’ supplies, ‘counseling’, and ‘non-diagnostic’ ultrasounds. Prenatal care is not provided in most cases.

“Critical Pregnancy Centers” are fake anti-abortion clinics that spread false information and discourage pregnant women from seeking abortion treatment. Minnesota has nearly 90. More than two dozen receive state funding.

Sam Strosa | MPR News

In Minnesota, none of these abortion prevention centers offer contraception, and a survey found that 63% make false and biased claims about abortion. This is almost double the percentage of such centers in other states.

And while many claim to be clinics, only 9% of Minnesota states have doctors on staff and only 20% have registered nurses on staff. rice field. At one center in Minnesota, medical professionals on staff were actually optometrists.

Nine state-funded “emergency pregnancy centers” are facilitating “abortion drug reversal.” This is what the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says is an “unethical” and possibly unsafe practice of prescribing progesterone to stop medical abortions.

Even with this knowledge, there is nothing the Minnesota Department of Health can do to stop funding unless Congress takes action. explained that it was to implement the required program under

Minnesota isn’t the only state funding “emergency pregnancy centers.” At least 13 states have contributed a total of $495 million since 2010, according to the Associated Press.

“Psychological Warfare”

On Thursday, DFLers introduced HF 289, the “Positive Pregnancy” bill. If this measure is passed, state grantees will provide medically accurate information about abortion so that pregnant people and young parents can access prenatal, medical, and reproductive health care, including abortion. should allocate funds to medical care to support If the bill is passed, “emergency pregnancy centers” will have to make significant changes to comply with the new requirements.

In an interview with MPR News, Senator Kelly Morrison, chairman of Minnesota’s Reproductive Freedom Caucus, said the key for Minnesotans seeking abortion care is knowing their options, and that “crisis pregnancy centers” can help them do just that. Said it was blocked. Her Morrison, who practices OBGYN, shared with her a past experience in which she was confused after some of her patients mistakenly sought help from these abortion prevention centers. I added that there are

“They’re really, really trying to mislead people. They act as if they weren’t designed to discourage people from seeking abortion care. “They are really dangerous.”

Passing HF 289 ends state funding for “emergency pregnancy centers,” but it doesn’t end their existence or ability to spread misinformation.

Signs Read Options for Eastern Women

Option for Women East, mentioned above, is a state-funded “emergency pregnancy center.”

Kerem Ussel MPR News

The move to stop funding these centers comes as abortion advocates look into statewide abortion restrictions and misinformation. Among those advocating for their demise is Sarah Anderson, a former volunteer at St. Paul’s “Emergency Pregnancy Center.” Anderson volunteered in a class during her high school years.

She said she was asked on her first shift day 15 years ago if she believed in abortion. After she said yes, she had to have a lengthy discussion about her values ​​and the role she and others have in “keeping people away from abortion.”

Anderson said she was young and confused about what these centers really do. When she heard that she was providing strollers and child seats for free, she pushed her volunteer work forward in the hope that she could somehow make a difference. It never happened.

“I don’t want people in crisis to go to these places and think they can get help. That’s it,” said Anderson. “They don’t offer medical ultrasounds, but they make it clear. They just say: I have nails and hair. It’s psychological warfare.”

Outside building with spray paint

Birthright, an “emergency pregnancy center” on Snelling Avenue in St. Paul, was demolished in July 2022.

Sam Strosa | MPR News

regional division

Brainerd is one of the furthest areas in Minnesota from an abortion clinic, with the closest being 100 miles (100 miles) away. It is also home to two ‘Emergency Pregnancy Centers’.

Becky Twamley, executive director of the WeARE (Advocates for Reproductive Education) reproductive health clinic, feels like she’s constantly battling misinformation about reproductive health and abortion.

“There’s a lot of misinformation right now, from social media to fake pregnancy centers. We’re here to be trusted medical professionals,” she said.

After the Roe v. Wade decision was overturned, WeARE has been busier than ever with demands for IUDs and other contraceptive methods. At the same time, her local abortion prevention center was working to spread misinformation about the consequences of the overthrow.

Twamley shared the story of a patient who contacted her shortly after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

“I had a phone call late in the summer and a woman was crying. She said, ‘I just want the correct information. You can’t trust anyone. I just came from a pregnancy center. When I went there, they told me everything and said I would get treatment, and then had me do an ultrasound.

Twamley said the woman knew something was up and said she felt harassed. She told Twamry that not only does this hurt abortion seekers in general, but rural America as a whole feels left with minimal care.

“People call me and say, ‘Why can’t I get the help I need?’ That’s the real heart of these centers.

Dr. Sarah Traxler, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood North Central States, agrees. She said the fact that Minnesota supports “emergency pregnancy centers” with state funds is particularly detrimental to patients.

Like Twamley, she has had patients with delayed abortions because they were misunderstood at one of these centers.

“I had time to decide what to do with a patient who was told by a CPC that she was ‘very, very, very early’ pregnant, and by the time I did, it was actually well past the gestational age. I noticed that Age limit in Minnesota because they were deceived,” she said.

Minnesota law restricts abortion, generally considered to be around the 24th to 26th week of pregnancy, unless the pregnancy endangers the life or health of the parent, but the law does not apply in practice. is unknown. Rarely do you even need to consider it. The state reports that in 2021, her only abortion occurred after her 24th week.

photo of purple and green building

Brainerd’s reproductive health clinic, WeARE, is about 100 miles from the nearest abortion clinic. Brainerd has two “emergency pregnancy centers” he opposes abortion, and there are nearly 90 statewide.

Photo provided

“They don’t care about you”

MPR News has reached out to several “emergency pregnancy centers” across the Twin Cities and state, all of which declined to comment. A brochure published by Pro-Life Action Ministries shows the activities of these centers.

“Having a baby is safer than having an abortion…we’re here for you. You’re not alone…don’t let the abortionist hurt your baby!” Pictures of young children and Bible verses are accompanied by advertisements for weekend retreats to mend the “broken hearts of abortion.”

The pamphlet claims that infertility, breast cancer, and death are physical risks of abortion. According to his 2018 study from the National Institutes of Health, abortion poses none of the above risks. Comparing abortion and childbirth mortality, we found that abortion was associated with fewer maternal deaths than continued pregnancies to full term.

Sarah Anderson volunteered nearly 15 years ago and she said she’s confident nothing has changed. She recalled seeing a religious cross in a non-medical ultrasound room.

“They don’t care about you as a person. It’s about making sure you carry the fetus to term, which is a shame,” she said.

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