Pa. must stop funding anti-abortion programs
We are a group of physicians from across Pennsylvania, and unlike the staff and volunteers of crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), we provide real care to our patients every single day. CPCs, or anti-abortion centers, are known for falsely presenting themselves to look like clinics that provide abortion and other health care services, as well as giving misleading information about birth control and abortion.
Despite using these deceptive practices and failing to deliver health services, Real Alternatives, which has run the so-called “Alternatives to Abortion Program” for 25 years, continues to receive millions of taxpayer dollars each year.
Below is a letter we delivered to Gov. Tom Wolf. As we wait for a response, we urge you to read the letter and raise your voice in support if you agree that we can no longer afford to waste taxpayer dollars on this dangerous and dishonest program.
Dear Gov. Tom Wolf,
We are a group of physicians from across the Commonwealth, and we have come together to denounce the channeling of scarce federal resources to organizations that not only fail to provide health care, but actively worsen health outcomes by providing false and misleading information to vulnerable people.
We are referring, of course, to the Alternatives to Abortion Program, which each year funnels $1 million from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to anti-abortion centers, sometimes called Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). Others have extensively documented the ways in which Real Alternatives has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars during its 25 year history, and we are concerned about this waste of resources in general, but especially so in the midst of a pandemic.
As a national leader in the response to COVID-19, you and your colleague Dr. Rachel Levine both rely on evidence over politics to chart our path, making it clear that you take protecting the public’s health seriously.
That’s why we are asking you to veto diversion of TANF funding to the Alternatives to Abortion Program, a program that ultimately serves as a barrier to health care.
We know that a “real alternative” to abortion already exists: Routine prenatal care.
Early prenatal care is important for improving pregnancy outcomes and reducing pregnancy complications. Reducing barriers to early entry into prenatal care would improve pregnancy outcomes for both parents and their children.
The tens of millions of dollars that CPCs get would be better used in a way that promotes access to early, routine prenatal care and pediatric care, particularly for groups most impacted by systemic racism in our health care system including Black patients, Indigenous patients, and patients of color.
Instead of ethical and medically sound care, clients at CPCs have not only received false information about their pregnancy options, they have also been victims of misleading tactics like non-medical personnel presenting themselves as legitimate healthcare providers to offer medical services when the clinic itself is not legitimate or held to medical standards.
There is nothing more personal than a patient’s relationship with their doctor. Our patients have to know that they can trust us, and we are proud of the trust we have built with them because we recognize that their bodies matter and that their autonomy over their bodies is paramount.
By impersonating health care providers, CPCs are manipulating the trust we work every day to build and maintain in order to further a political agenda. They use taxpayer money with zero accountability, and that infuriates us almost as much as the misinformation they provide.
Pregnancy is often a vulnerable time. People experiencing an unexpected pregnancy often have questions, and they deserve supportive counseling that includes all of their pregnancy options.
As the COVID-19 crisis continues, the state is faced with a huge budget shortfall. Limited state resources should be used to support the health and welfare of real healthcare providers and our patients, not used to shame and mislead people seeking care.
We are asking you to use your line-item veto power to make sure no more TANF dollars go toward funding Real Alternatives and CPCs in Pennsylvania.
Those TANF dollars could be doing so much good, especially in this difficult time, and new guidance from the federal government grants states great flexibility in using these funds due to COVID.
It’s time for Pennsylvania to stop funding fake “alternatives,” and start funding the real healthcare that Pennsylvanians need.
Ashley Snyder, MD, Internal Medicine
Sonya Borrero, MD, Internal Medicine
Cynthia Chuang, MD, Internal Medicine
Holly W. Cummings, MD, OB-GYN
Grace Ferguson, MD, OB-GYN
Sarah Horvath, MD, OB-GYN
Missy McNeil, MD, Internal Medicine
Noah Rindos, MD, OB-GYN
R. Claire Roden, MD, Adolescent Medicine
Courtney Schreiber, MD, OB-GYN