Sunday, 17 October 2010

Making progress against fake pregnancy clinics

If you look hard, there are signs of sanity in the Excited States over abortion.

First up, Florida.

Since 2004, fake pregnancy clinics, aka 'crisis pregnancy centres', have been receiving state funding -- to the tune of $8 million so far.

The Florida Independent has taken an interest.

Last month, it reported on the lies these outfits tell.
Crisis Pregnancy Centers, funded by the state of Florida, are distributing brochures that suggest abortion causes mental illness, including depression, addiction and suicide. In the best case, the information handed out is biased; in the worst case, sources say, it is wrong.

Oh, and look whose work they're citing -- our pal David Reardon of the we-will-change-our-name-to-anything-a-really-big-donor-wants, Elliot Institute.
This brochure cites several authors — including, again, Reardon, an important source of information distributed by pregnancy centers.

“This situation reminds me of the religious-based abstinence-only sex education in public schools,” says Rob Boston, senior policy analyst for Americans United for Separation of Church and State. “As a general rule, government should not be in the business of furthering religion.”

“Nobody disputes their right to exist, but if state money is involved we think they should be up front about their goals,” Boston adds.

Florida Pregnancy Care Network Executive Director Susan Grimsley would not answer questions about the brochures, directing all queries regarding the state crisis pregnancy program to the Department of Health.

Rob Hayes, the DOH of communications office, has indicated answers will be forthcoming, but after more than a week, The Florida Independent has not received any further response.

The Florida Independent stayed on the story. The Florida fake clinics are run by two groups, the nonprofit Florida Pregnancy Care Network and the for-profit Uzzell Group.

What the heck is the Uzzell Group? the Independent wondered. And looked into it.
The Florida Pregnancy Care Network manages 55 of these state-funded pregnancy clinics, but according to Department of Health information, another 17 are handled by The Uzzell Group, a Tallahassee-based marketing and advertising firm. Why is a marketing company managing pregnancy clinics? The firm wouldn’t answer our questions.

The Florida Independent spoke with Erica Uzzell, identified as the person in charge of The Uzzell Group’s clinics, how the company manages those pregnancy centers. She said, “Any questions about the program will be answered by the Department of Health communication office.” We were also told to visit the Uzzell website to learn more about the company. The site is currently being remodeled: There is no information there aside from a phone and fax number and an email address.

The story goes on to document all kinds of interesting ties between the Uzzells and the state of Florida. The couple seems to be, shall we say, very well connected politically. (The Uzzell website is still under construction.)

Staying with the story, last week the paper reported that the Department of Health has no fucking clue what is being done with taxpayer money.
Department of Health records obtained by The Florida Independent show that oversight of Florida’s state-funded crisis pregnancy clinic chain mainly rests in the hands of the two organizations contracted by the state to run those clinics — the nonprofit Florida Pregnancy Care Network and the for-profit Uzzell Group.

That means the Department of Health has little direct insight into how public money is being spent at 79 crisis pregnancy centers around the state, and if those dollars are being used to disseminate disputed science on abortion or to promote religious content.

Fishy, yes? But then, running fake clinics is an excellent racket, especially when the racketeers are feeding at the public trough.

Stay on it, Independent. I'll be following the story.

Next up, New York City.

Following the excellent lead taken by Baltimore and Austin, Texas, New York is going to force the fake clinics to tell the truth.
The City Council plans to unveil legislation Tuesday that would establish strict disclosure requirements for crisis-pregnancy centers, some of which, abortion-rights advocates charge, deceive women into believing they're full-serve reproductive health facilities by masking their antiabortion agenda.

The legislation, backed by Speaker Christine Quinn, would require the centers to disclose to clients that they do not provide abortion services or contraceptive devices, or make referrals to organizations that do. Centers that don't have licensed medical providers onsite would also have to disclose that information.

Great. Also on Tuesday NARAL Pro-Choice New York will release a year-in-the-making report on what they call the 'lies, manipulations and privacy violations' of these centres.

We've heard it all before, of course, but as progressive places investigate the lying liars and then act to restrict the damage they do, more people will hear about this form of fetus fetishizing racketeering.


Beijing York said...

Are the Uzzells the big fish that might be sponsoring the Elliot Institute? Maybe they worked together to set up the clinics.

fern hill said...

I did some more digging on the Uzzells. They may be well-connected politically, but they don't appear to be terribly high rollers.

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