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State Senate Set to Vote on Permanent State Funding for Controversial Pregnancy Support Centers

January 22nd, 2018 by Jake Stofan
Proposed Legislation at the State Capitol would make permanent $4 million in state funding for pregnancy support centers.
Women’s advocates say the often religiously affiliated businesses undermine a woman’s right to choose.
45 years ago Monday, the US Supreme Court decided women have the right to an abortion.
Legislation moving in the state capitol would build funding for pregnancy support centers into the base budget.
It now comes from one time revenue.
The permanency worries pro choice advocates like Barbara DeVane with the Florida National Organization for Women.
“It gives away our tax money to clinics that are spreading lies about abortion, and they’re demeaning young women,”said DeVane.
Ryan Sprague runs the Pregnancy Help and information Center in Tallahassee.
He says centers like his offer women help through a pregnancy.
“[We offer] Any number of classes that I think everybody, whether you’re pro-choice or pro-life or don’t care you would say is a good thing for education for a mom to get,” said Sprague.
During committee meetings, some young women like FSU student Amelia Zahnder described feeling pressured at the clinics.
“She told me that I had to sign a chastity pledge and told me to hold her hands and repeat a prayer after her,” Zehnder recalled.
Amelia went to a similar pregnancy center, but not one funded by the state.
There have been no formal complaints received by the state against the centers run by Florida Pregnancy Care Network, which holds the contract.
Sprague says while the centers do offer religious materials upon request, they don’t bill the state for those visits.
“When we do a class on car seat safety, we can invoice the state for that class,” said Sprague. “If an hour later we do a class on interpreting the bible we can’t invoice the state for that class.”
The centers say women are free to leave at anytime and go to other clinics like Planned Parenthood that offer abortions and contraception.
More than 45,000 Floridians were served by 105 pregnancy centers around the state in 2016.
The Senate is expected to vote on the legislation later this week. If passed its next stop would be the governor‘s desk.

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