The Healthy Texas Women program is a state program that uses public funds to help women locate and obtain quality health care. Given that Texas is currently on high alert for Zika, a virus that causes birth defects, you might expect the funds to go to programs that help women with family planning services like contraception and abortion. But this is Texas! And so a huge portion of the grant is going to an extremist anti-abortion organization with no actual experience in comprehensive reproductive health services.
That organization, the Heidi Group, will receive $1.6 million in public funds to provide women with health care. The group’s founder, Carol Everett, is a prominent anti-abortion activist who describes her organization’s mission as “promoting life affirming hope and dignity to girls, women, and their families seeking self-sufficiency.” It appears to further these goals by running a “crisis pregnancy center” that lures in pregnant women with the promise of impartial pregnancy testing and ultrasounds, then inundates them with anti-abortion propaganda. Everett has explained the importance of crisis pregnancy centers to the anti-abortion movement:
Find one that fits you and get involved. This is a sin that is touching (everyone) in the nation. We can humble ourselves and pray but if we don’t turn from our sins, our wicked ways, God can’t heal this land so it’s time for us to end abortion. Use the gifts and talents God’s given you to do that.
Everett also vehemently opposes abortion in the case of rape, arguing that the rape victim will be re-traumatized when she realizes “she killed her baby.” Thanks to Texas’ generous grant, Everett now has $1.6 million to use to spread her dogma and strategies across the state—although Texas insists that her group has “changed its focus.”
There is an ironic coda to this story. Many states, including Texas, have recently cut funding for Planned Parenthood. This has, in turn, increased pregnancies among low-income women. (Several courts have invalidated this planned funding termination—including a federal judge in Ohio on Friday—for violating the constitution.) These states argue that public money should not be given to a health care organization that promotes a certain ideology. But instead of giving that money to a real health care provider, Texas has simply shuffled it over to a crisis pregnancy center. It’s almost as though Texas cares more about promoting anti-abortion ideology at the expense of women’s safety than protecting women’s health. Who could’ve seen that coming?