Did you know that Virginia funds deceptive crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) through the sale of anti-choice license plates?
Despite receiving more than 17,000 messages and hundreds of phone calls from pro-choice activists across the country, in March 2009 Gov. and Democratice National Committee Chair Tim Kaine signed into law a bill that creates license plates bearing the slogan "Choose Life."
The sale of these plates raises money for Heartbeat International, a national umbrella organization for anti-choice CPCs that often deliberately deceive women about the nature, consequences, and availability of abortion services. These unlicensed centers that often pose as legitimate public-health clinics may also refuse to provide information about or referrals for birth control.
CPCs advertise "free" or low-cost services to attract low-income women, who are especially vulnerable to CPCs due to the shortage of clinics nationwide that offer the full range of reproductive-health options. Moreover, many CPC organizations like Care Net have started to target women of color. According to the Care Net website, "[r]ecognizing that over 70% of the nation's abortion clinics are located in minority neighborhoods, Care Net is strategically planting new pregnancy centers in these urban communities in order to provide needed abortion alternatives and pregnancy support services." This new focus is of particular concern when one considers the real health needs and the troubling lack of legitimate health-care services in these communities. For example, the rate of unplanned pregnancy among African-American women, particularly teens, far outpaces that of other groups: 51 percent of African-American teen girls will become pregnant at least once before they turn 20. These daunting statistics speak to the need for more reproductive-health information and resources in this community, not a proliferation of anti-choice propaganda that attempts to block women from learning about the full range of health-care options.
S.B.817, 2009 Leg., Reg. Sess (Va. 2009); Planned Parenthood of America, Inc. (PPFA), Anti-Abortion Counseling Centers: A Consumer's Alert to Deception, Harassment, and Medical Malpractice (2002), at http://www.ppfa.org/pp2/portal/files/portal/medicalinfo/abortion/fact-antiabortion-centers.xml (last visited October 30, 2009); National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Policy Brief: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Teen Pregnancy (July 2008) at http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/resources/pdf/Briefly_PolicyBrief_RacialEthnicDisparities.pdf (last visited October 1, 2009); Care Net, Our Work, at http://www.care-net.org/ourwork (last visited Dec. 15, 2009).