I am writing to express my concern about Prevalence of crisis centers for pregnancy (CPCs) in Minnesota and demand defunding, and propose alternative programs for which the Positive Alternatives Grant is allocated.
CPCs are fraudulent scam organizations masquerading as comprehensive reproductive health clinics. Moreover, their omnipresence in our society prevents people from getting the clinical support and information they need in a timely manner. This is a deliberate effort on the part of CPCs, who often position themselves in or near marginalized communities and target low-income mothers with free pregnancy testing and ultrasounds. In addition, CPC often uses “co-location,” the practice of setting up shop near a medical center to boost its credibility and increase the chances of people wandering off by mistake.
The claim that CPC is inherently deceptive is one with a wide body of evidence, starting with a 2021 study that found that in more than 600 centers analyzed, only 16.3% of doctors were on staff. Furthermore, most of these physicians only work on a part-time or volunteer basis, and many have degrees in unrelated fields such as optometry.
But the lying doesn’t stop there. In fact, more than 63% of the centers in the same study proudly flaunted inaccurate and biased information on their websites. These claims largely involve mental health, infertility, breast cancer, and “post-abortion syndrome.” In Minnesota, the rate of such claims is higher than in the national study.
Seventy-six percent of Minnesotans associate miscarriages with breast cancer, and 73% claim miscarriages are linked to future miscarriages. These statistics highlight the prevalence of deception and biased information that is freely distributed to vulnerable mothers in crisis.
But how does Minnesota CPC get the money to work, you ask? That’s right, government grants from the Positive Alternatives Grants Program, which gave out more than $3.4 million last year alone. Not only do Minnesota CPCs publicly advocate against state-supported abortions, they do so with state funding. If that sounds contradictory, that’s because it is. If we, as the state of Minnesota, are so proud of our position on reproductive rights, why are we funding programs that openly challenge this mission while spreading harmful misinformation?
To answer these ethical questions, I suggest that we defund CPCs, rather than develop short- and long-term programs that more accurately address the needs of mothers in crisis. This means developing community clinics in and around marginalized communities, staffed by professionals trained to provide pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, accurate information and more. In addition to defunding CPCs, we must also work for long-term solutions such as sex education in schools, providing unbiased and accurate information to young people about safe sex practices and prenatal care. By investing in education, we can empower women to make informed decisions about their reproductive health and ensure that all people have the resources they need to avoid unwanted pregnancies in the first place.
Tyler Rooks is a master’s student in Social Work at Saint Mary’s University in Minnesota.