Limited Health Services, Misinformation: A Look at Critical Pregnancy Centers in Tax Cut Bill


A bill that would give tax breaks of up to $5 million for donations to abortion crisis pregnancy centers, touted as a way to address the maternal and child health crisis in one of the toughest states, could soon pass the Louisiana legislature There is Prohibition of abortion.

invoice has already passed Senate and the House Ways and Means Committee with overwhelming Republican support. It now moves to the House floor, then to the Governor’s desk.

Author Senator Beth Mizell (R-Franklinton) said the bill was intended to improve maternal health.

Mizell told the Senate committee that Louisiana ranks among the worst in the nation for maternal and infant mortality and health, saying, “We’re sorry to hear about how poorly Louisiana ranks in terms of maternal health and wellness. We’ve been talking for years,” he said. Especially for black and indigenous women.

Half of the state’s parishes are “maternity care deserts,” signifying the lack of maternal health care and the problems facing black women. Significant rise in maternal mortality in those parishes, and statewide.

“We all know what happened Law vs. Wade“And in parallel with the state rankings, something has to be done to address that,” Mizell continued.

Mizell’s bill would change the name of eligible critical pregnancy centers that meet minimum standards to “Maternity Wellness Centers,” encourage donations to these centers, and make them available on the Louisiana Department of Health’s website. This is the content to be posted. Organizations that support, promote, or encourage abortion in any way are not eligible for tax relief.

Mizell argued that these centers would help improve maternal health, but crisis pregnancy centers are not clinics and the bill does not require them to be health care providers.

A WWNO/WRKF survey of 33 at-risk pregnancy websites and the services they advertise found that the majority offered little maternal and reproductive health care, and some contained health misinformation, including: Some places offered it. Potentially dangerous “abortion reversal” practices

Kimberly Kimport, a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who has studied these centers, said they were primarily intended as religiously-run social services for low-income pregnant women and families with young children. Said it was working.

“What they are doing now is filling a void in our social safety net,” she says. “But there is no evidence that they improve maternal health or infant health.”

Christine Brandi, Ph.D., obstetrician-gynecologist, fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and family planning expert, agrees.

“This is not even a quick fix for maternal morbidity issues in maternal health,” Brandi said of the potential impact of crisis pregnancy centers on health outcomes. “It’s just a distraction from actually solving the problem.”

What types of medical care do crisis pregnancy centers provide?

Critical pregnancy centers have existed in Louisiana for decades, and their primary purpose is to discourage women from abortion and to serve pregnant women and new parents. Website and social media reviews found that nearly all crisis pregnancy centers in Louisiana (29 of 33) are Christian.

The main medical services provided by these centers are free pregnancy tests, similar over-the-counter tests available at pharmacies (offered by 33 centers), and ‘limited’ ultrasound (29 centers).

Centers often encourage ultrasounds when necessary to confirm pregnancy, but Brandy, an obstetrician-gynecologist, said ultrasounds may need to be repeated at the point of care as part of routine prenatal care. said to be of high quality.

“Most health professionals, when they come to antenatal care and say they have had an ultrasound, they will repeat the same thing because they manage ultrasounds and ultrasound providers in crisis pregnancy centers. Because there are no regulations to do so,” she says. That means it doesn’t have to be the same quality as ultrasound done in a medical setting, Brandy said.

Mizell’s bill would require all “maternity wellness centers” to introduce prenatal care, Medicaid enrollment, and a publicly funded maternal and child nutrition program known as WIC. Currently, only about half of respondents referred to prenatal care, 10 referred to Medicaid and 7 referred to her WIC.

It is not clear what effect these referrals have on maternal and child health, as it is not known how many people actually use crisis pregnancy centres.

Centers are not obliged to provide public data on the number of customers they support, nor are they obliged to do so under Mizell’s bill.one 2018 survey The Louisiana Prenatal Patient Survey, co-authored with Kimport, surveyed 269 patients at antenatal care clinics in Louisiana and found that only 5% of prenatal patients visited a crisis pregnancy center for their pregnancies. It turns out that there was.

“Not many people go to these centers,” Kinport said.

Ms Brandi, an obstetrician-gynecologist, said even parishes without crisis pregnancy centers are unlikely to help improve access to maternal health care. It’s like being there and there are no health care providers there.”

Only a handful of crisis pregnancy centers responded that they provided other medical services, five of which offered STD testing and two of which provided annual checkups for women. Provided a well-woman test.

Only five centers had a medical director or registered nurse. Mizell’s bill requires registered nurses to conduct pregnancy tests, but does not require a permanent medical director.

What health misinformation does the center provide?

A third of the centers had incorrect information about abortion on their site.

Women seeking abortions in other states did not explicitly state that the center was anti-abortion, suggesting that they should come to the center for an ultrasound.

In addition, 14 facilities provided false information about “reversed abortion.” This is an unproven and potentially dangerous attempt to prevent successful medical abortion. One of our smaller surveys in 2019 The institute, which sought to assess whether the effects of “abortion reversal” would cause dangerous bleeding, was shut down as a result.

In 2021, the Louisiana Department of Health will: Forced websites to promote “reversal of abortion”. Dr. Joseph Cantor of the State Department of Health said this was “not supported by expert consensus and is not standard practice.”

Two crisis pregnancy centers advertised misinformation about emergency contraception, and none of the facilities said they provided or referred emergency contraceptives. common stance among these centers across the United States

Nor did any of the Louisiana centers say they offered or referred to contraceptives in general. Women’s New Life, two of the state’s largest emergency pregnancy centers in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, says that contraceptives such as oral contraceptives, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and implants “impair the functioning of the female reproductive system. Incorrect information was posted on the website saying that it intentionally damages. ” “harmful to women”.

Mizell’s bill would indeed strengthen this anti-contraceptive position.

To be eligible for tax-deductible donations, a crisis pregnancy center must join one of the three major crisis pregnancy center organizations in the country. Two of these national groups are heartbeat international and care netin its policy, states that no center can promote contraceptives.

Mr. Kinport said the result was a “two-tiered” system. Those with low financial resources or who may not have health insurance may turn to crisis pregnancy centers, where they have fewer options and are less educated about contraception. Due to the legacy and ongoing effects of racism, these people are likely black, the same population facing the worst maternal and child health conditions in Louisiana, she added.

“People with insurance are getting a different kind of care,” Kinport said.

What other resources do you offer?

Mizell’s bill would require crisis pregnancy centers to provide supplies and assistance such as counseling services, parenting and prenatal classes, and most already do.

Nearly all 30 of the 33 centers surveyed provide material assistance, ranging from baby products and clothes to diapers and milk.

In more than half of these centers, their support is conditional. At 17 centers, some or all of these items are available only to customers attending classes at the centres. Such classes are often offered by Christian organizations.

At a committee hearing on the bill, Mizell said those classes “are rewarded with diapers and wipes,” and that more classes are “prepared to get a stroller.” Said I could take the course.

The majority of centers offered counseling, commonly referred to as “general counseling,” and focused on clients’ decisions regarding pregnancy. Three said they offered “professional” counseling, but none said they offered sessions with a qualified counselor. One center also offered classes on marriage, he said.

The majority also provided counseling for abortion survivors, often claiming that the service was necessary to “cure” from abortion or claim the existence of a “post-abortion syndrome.” The largest study on the impact of access to abortion, the Turnaway Study, followed nearly 1,000 women in 21 states for five years, No evidence of long-term mental health risk related to abortion.

About half of the centers offer adoption referrals, and the bill would require all “maternity wellness centers” to do so.

What kind of government oversight do they have?

Louisiana crisis pregnancy centers are not regulated by state authorities and receive little oversight, including those already funded by the government. Mizell’s bill would continue that.

Louisiana distributes welfare funds to specific centers through the Abortion Alternatives Initiative, which draws on funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Since 2011, $11 million in welfare grants Pregnancy centers are in crisis, according to a report last year from abortion rights activist Lyft Louisiana.

The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), which distributes TANF grants, does not track the effectiveness or outcomes of these centers. Last year, Republicans voted down a bill that would have required DCFS to investigate the services and impact of crisis pregnancy centers.

During a committee hearing on her bill, Mizell said the crisis pregnancy center did not want more oversight by governments, including the Ministry of Health.





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