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Advocates unveil exposé on Florida’s anti-abortion pregnancy centers

Findings include false and deceptive medical information, inflated reimbursement rates, and wasteful spending

TALLAHASSEE – Today, the Floridians for Reproductive Freedom coalition released a report outlining the failure and mismanagement of the Florida Pregnancy Support Services Program (FPSSP), while also shining a light on the Florida Pregnancy Care Network, the organization assigned to administer the program.

The Florida Legislature allocates $4 million-per-year of taxpayer funds to the FPSSP, which funds anti-abortion pregnancy centers which  coerce pregnant people from seeking abortion services. The report calls on Florida officials to stop giving taxpayer dollars to these ineffective and ideologically driven centers, and instead allocate funding to clinics staffed by medical professionals who provide comprehensive health care services that are subject to diligent state oversight.

“This report confirms what we’ve been saying for years: these centers have a proven track record of talking people out of abortions using tactics of shame and disinformation,” said Amy Weintraub, Reproductive Rights Program Director for Progress Florida. “It’s time to end taxpayer funding for these anti-abortion pregnancy centers, which have a long history of deceiving women and endangering their health.”

Report author Julia C. Long said, “Not only has this program been a failure for public health, but it has proven to be a clear example of financial mismanagement of taxpayer dollars. If Florida lawmakers are serious about their commitment to do best by its pregnant people, they should immediately examine where these millions in taxpayer dollars can be reallocated to support services that actually contribute to the health of Floridians.”

Since 2009, the Florida Legislature has allocated more than $30 million to the Florida Pregnancy Care Network to manage the program, signed into law in 2006 by then-Governor Jeb Bush with a goal of “solely promot[ing] childbirth.” This means that legitimate reproductive health centers which provide pregnant people with comprehensive services and information on all pregnancy options are not eligible for this funding.

Of the 56 publicly funded subcontractors in the Florida program, only two are required to provide health and wellness services. The vast majority only provide pregnancy tests and “counseling” explicitly designed to deceive and misinform those seeking services. Despite a mandate prohibiting religious bias in the delivery of these services, many of the subcontractors affiliated with this program are religious entities.

These ideologically driven pregnancy centers have also been known to promote dangerous medical misinformation on their websites, including the scientifically unsound “abortion pill reversal” method. This, despite a 2019 study of “abortion pill reversal” being halted after participants experienced extreme vaginal bleeding.

In a shameful abuse of taxpayer funds, the report outlines how between 2011 and 2019 FPSSP received $1.5 to $2 million annually from the state’s rape crisis program trust fund, even though “none of its local programs or the network that oversees it promote, nor seem capable of, providing rape crisis services.”

The report also details how the program’s failure to provide adequate services is reflected in the lack of reproductive health expertise of FPCN board members. The board is populated by political operatives, many of whom have a history of spreading anti-scientific rhetoric and conspiracy theories, and whose goals and actions undoubtedly prioritize political preference over public health.

Ms. Long continued, "Florida Pregnancy Care Network uses Florida taxpayer dollars to fund ideologically driven organizations instead of funding the organizations that provide comprehensive family planning health services. The Florida Pregnancy Support Services Program is a complete failure in providing real health services to the citizens of the state who provide the very dollars that are being squandered.”

Members of the Floridians for Reproductive Freedom coalition, report author Julia C. Long and its national partner Equity Forward will host a Zoom Power Hour, Thursday, January 28th, to share the report with advocates and discuss how anti-abortion pregnancy centers across Florida are targeting and manipulating people with unintended pregnancies. Interested media members can register for the 7:00 pm Zoom call via this link.

More information about the Floridians for Reproductive Freedom coalition is available here and the full report is here. To arrange an interview with the report’s author, Julia Long, or a spokesperson from the Floridians for Reproductive Freedom coalition, please use the contact information above.

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BACKGROUND:

Anti-abortion pregnancy centers are usually religiously-affiliated organizations that call themselves “crisis pregnancy centers”. The reproductive rights movement sometimes calls them "fake clinics" as the centers purport to offer pregnancy-related health care and medical services, but fail to provide comprehensive, evidence-based medical care.

Anti-abortion pregnancy centers exist to talk women out of abortions. Fueled by a staunch anti-abortion agenda, they use free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds for persuasion instead of medical diagnosis. Numbering nearly 200 in Florida alone, anti-abortion pregnancy centers have become the local organizing force for the anti-abortion movement.

ABOUT THE COALITION:

Floridians for Reproductive Freedom, a coalition of more than 60 organizations, is united to educate about the importance of, and advocate for, convenient, affordable and safe access to the full range of reproductive health care – from abortion to birth control to evidence-based sex education. We envision a future where all Floridians have access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion, with dignity and respect.

 

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