A Pennsylvania state representative announced this weekend she plans to sponsor a bill to end state subsidization of pregnancy-resource centers, accusing these organizations of improperly trying to dissuade women and “birthing people” from getting abortions.
“Crisis pregnancy centers are organizations that purport to provide medical services to pregnant women and birthing people but instead engage in deceptive practices to prevent them from having abortions,” Representative Melissa Shusterman (D-Paoli) wrote in a memorandum encouraging colleagues to cosponsor her measure. “The damage these organizations inflict upon people cannot be understated [and] amounts to a public health emergency.”
In her memo, the lawmaker alleged that most of these establishments, which have received commonwealth funds since the 1990s, do not provide prenatal care or make referrals for that service. She also averred that these centers promote “practices that endanger, not protect, human health” like abstinence-based education and sexual-orientation conversion therapy.
A Marist College Poll earlier this year determined that 91 percent of Americans support crisis pregnancy centers which not only pay the medical bills of needy pregnant women but also provide baby clothes, diapers and other supplies for infant care.
Abortion backers in the state legislature have increasingly targeted crisis pregnancy centers for defunding after the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortions nationwide. In an op-ed piece in City & State Pennsylvania during her 2022 freshman state House campaign, freshman Representative Melissa Cerrato (D-Horsham) complained that pro-life pregnancy-assistance organizations now outnumber abortion providers in the Pennsylvania by a nine-to-one margin. Cerrato bemoaned that Real Alternatives, which runs most of these centers, has received $100 million in state money over the last three decades.
Like Shusterman, Cerrato made clear she wants any pregnancy-aid institution that does not terminate unborn life to go out of business.
“Just as we need to codify Roe v. Wade at the state level to ensure that Pennsylvanians have access to reproductive health care regardless of what happens in Washington, D.C.,” she wrote, “we need to do more to root out crisis pregnancy centers for good.”
Since Roe’s reversal, more than 80 pregnancy-aid centers nationwide have experienced vandalism, arson or other attacks. Some Democratic governors like Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer have already taken steps to defund these organizations.
Cerrato’s bill could conceivably pass the House where Democrats enjoy a slim majority, though it faces longer odds in the Republican-run Senate.
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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Pennsylvania Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Melissa Shusterman” by Melissa Shusterman. Background Photo “Ultrasound” by MART PRODUCTION.