As an organization that provides support to pregnant people, we were shocked and disappointed to hear NPR praising anti-abortion Crisis Pregnancy Centers for helping pregnant women access Medicaid on this past Monday’s edition of All Things Considered.
If the segment’s main argument had been that everyone should support Medicaid — a vital social safety net program — we would almost understand. But we are left questioning why NPR focused exclusively on anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers. CPCs regularly employ deceptive practices and deny accurate information, referrals, and resources to pregnant people who are unsure if they want to parent. Uplifting these centers as advocates for women’s health or Medicaid is irresponsible and dangerous.
In states like California, where Medicaid can also be used to pay for abortion care, crisis pregnancy centers are notorious for refusing to help people access benefits until they are past the legal limit for abortion. This often delays entry to prenatal care until the third trimester. And in Indiana, where our All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center is based, federal funds intended to support children and families living in poverty have been diverted away and given to crisis pregnancy centers. Meanwhile, organizations like ours are overwhelmed by demand for diapers and other parenting supports but remain ineligible for state funding because we won’t deny our clients comprehensive information or support for pregnancy, parenting, abortion or adoption.
Access to Medicaid shouldn’t be used as a tool to promote an anti-abortion agenda or to encourage or coerce someone into continuing their pregnancy. It should be offered because healthcare is a human right, regardless of how much money you have. That’s why many social service agencies and community healthcare organizations, such as Title X clinics, regularly help pregnant clients sign up for Medicaid – without a proselytizing anti-abortion agenda.
At All-Options, we understand that abortion and parenting needs can and do coexist. Statistics show that 59 percent of women who have an abortion already have at least one child, and our clients’ lives reflect that reality. We operate with the belief that all people deserve the support, information, and resources they need to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.
That’s why as a reproductive justice organization, All-Options provide diapers, baby clothes, and support in accessing the full range of social benefits like WIC, SNAP, and Medicaid; we also provide condoms, birth control referrals, and abortion funding and referrals. We believe it is unconscionable to manipulate people into making any reproductive decision by withholding information or resources, or by only offering support on certain terms.
By highlighting crisis pregnancy centers as advocates for access to Medicaid, NPR not only excuses but endorses biased and conditions-based support. NPR can and should do better in covering real champions of access to comprehensive pregnancy care.
J. Parker Dockray, MSW
All-Options Executive Director