Law Professor Asserts Taxpayer Money Going to CPCs Violates First Amendment (2019)

Various sources are raising alarms about state taxpayer money supporting religious anti-abortion centers known as crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). There are so many problems with the state budget (like refusal to expand Medicaid), that more money for CPCs is not getting sufficient attention. Unfortunately, the NC legislature has been funneling money to CPCs for years.  In 2019, they have quadrupled the amount every fiscal year going to “Human Coalition,” a Texas based anti-abortion organization that runs a crisis pregnancy center in Raleigh. Public funding of CPCs has been covered this year by the News and Observer, Charlotte Observer, Rewire.com, NC NOW’s Legislative Updates, and NC Policy Watch. The problem of CPCs receiving state funding recently got the attention of UNC Law Professor Gene Nichol, who weighed in on the problem in “Funding NC crisis pregnancy centers is government sponsored religion,” 7/1/19, which ran in the Charlotte Observer and News and Observer.

Gene Nichol is Boyd Tinsley Distinguished professor of law and Director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina School of Law. He teaches courses in constitutional law and federal courts. Photography by Steve Exum of Exumphoto on September 5, 2012.

Professor Nichol refers to a “national report published by Dr. Amy Bryant and Dr. Jonas Swartz of the UNC School of Medicine, published last year [2018] in the AMA Journal of Ethics, described the centers as “organizations that seek to intercept women with unintended pregnancies who might be considering abortion.” Because the “religious ideology of the center owners and employees takes priority, women do not receive comprehensive, accurate, evidence-based clinical information about available options.” Their propagation of misinformation “should be regarded as an ethical violation that undermines women’s health,” the doctors concluded. “

Close to $2.6 million has been allocated from this state budget for anti-abortion organizations, including CPCs. The breakdown is as follows:

$1.2 million to Human Coalition
$1.3 million to Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship
$50,000 to Mountain Area Pregnancy Services

The Raleigh News and Observer has done in-depth reporting on Human Coalition and other crisis pregnancy organizations that receive state funding:  see “NC budget would quadruple money for anti-abortion group questioned on oversight,” 6/21/19, News and Observer, at https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article231719523.html, 6/21/19.

Rewire News on 5/3/19 reported that “Pro-choice advocates have called on North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) to investigate anti-choice clinics and stop public funding for groups that operate the facilities.” 

NC NOW’s Legislative Update #22 reports that “according to its website, Human Coalition has “developed marketing outreaches, women’s care clinics, and cultural influences to end abortion city by city.”  Clearly, its main objective is to develop and disseminate anti-abortion propaganda.  The crisis pregnancy clinic in Raleigh provides no medical services, but refers clients to various government, religious, and private resources for assistance beyond being subjected to anti-abortion propaganda.”

The Legislative Update continues as follows.

“Based on the incomplete and late reports submitted by Human Coalition, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), did not recommend increasing funding to expand its program, noting that “although connecting people to existing programs like WIC or housing assistance can be helpful, the model being piloted by Human Coalition has not been subject to independent research or evaluation.  Therefore, it cannot be identified as evidence-based or even best practice”   Human Coalition also did not meet the Better Business Bureau’s charity review standards.”

“In committee, Democratic legislators asked pointed questions and raised objections, but were overruled.”

In 2018, $1.55 Million in Taxpayer Money went to CPCs in NC Budget, 5/31/18, https://wp.me/p22b2e-1G9.

Raleigh Tuesdays With Tillis/NC NOW/Naral event supporting Planned Parenthood and exposing money to Crisis Pregnancy Centers in May 2018. Photo Credit: Michael Eisenberg

A few past stories on taxpayer money going to CPCs:

2017 –https://indyweek.com/news/archives/ncga-budget-gives-2.6-million-crisis-pregnancy-centers/

2018 –

“Anti-abortion pregnancy clinics and Christian hunting clubs get money in NC budget,” 5/29/18, at https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article212097339.html

“$1.55 Million in Taxpayer Money Going to CPCs in NC Budget,” 5/31/18, https://wp.me/p22b2e-1G9

Shortlink: https://wp.me/p22b2e-29v

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