The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Lawsuit seeks to expose federal ties to anti-abortion centers

by Michelle Chen

Nov. 2, 2006 – A Washington watchdog is looking into connections between federal funding and organizations that aim to discourage abortions by giving women misleading advice.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is going to court to force the US government to disclose its funding policy toward "pregnancy resource centers."

Backed by the White House and religious groups, pregnancy resource centers are local organizations that purport to provide women with family-planning advice. Evidence has emerged that some of the centers have been giving false and misleading information about the health risks of abortions. The White House and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) fund many of the centers.

CREW filed the complaint with the Washington, DC federal district court last week after the HHS failed to respond to an August Freedom of Information Act request for a range of government documents on the centers. The group seeks disclosure of the criteria for funding the centers, information on efforts to separate religion from other activity, and communications by the HHS concerning the accuracy of the advice that the centers provided.

CREW’s complaint cited a US House of Representatives Special Investigation Division report that came out in July. As previously reported by The NewStandard, investigators made test calls to 23 pregnancy resource centers funded by the White House-managed Compassion Capital Fund. Most of the inquiries led to medically dubious advice. Some center personnel suggested, contrary to scientific evidence, that abortion would lead to increased risk of suicide, cancer and psychological trauma.

According to the congressional report, pregnancy resource centers have absorbed at least $30 million in federal grants since 2001, mostly through initiatives for abstinence education. Various White House and congressional earmarks have provided additional funds.

The congressional investigation found links between the centers and ideologically driven Christian organizations. Along with other faith-based charities, the centers are part of the White House’s campaign to enhance the role of religious groups in the social-service sector.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Michelle Chen is a staff journalist.

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