Apr 25, 2023 - News

Columbus expected to extend investigation of crisis pregnancy centers

Illustration of Columbus City Hall with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Columbus may extend an investigation into the practices of local crisis pregnancy centers as part of the city's ardent support for residents' abortion rights.

Why it matters: The centers, which receive millions of dollars from the state, are accused by critics of providing unregulated, inaccurate medical information to those seeking pregnancy care.

Flashback: City Council unanimously approved a $26,500 contract with the group Pro-Choice Ohio last July to examine the centers and determine if local residents "have access to medically accurate and legal reproductive health information."

The latest: The city's contract with Pro-Choice Ohio expired in March and Council is expected to extend it through Aug. 31 so that the investigation can complete its work, the organization's communications director, Gabriel Mann, tells Axios.

  • The group hopes to learn about the practices and information provided by crisis pregnancy centers through a series of patient visits.

What they're saying: Pro-Choice Ohio contends the centers "have a history of providing misinformation to clients and using coercive and manipulative practices to influence people's decisions on what to do with an unplanned pregnancy," per a statement.

The other side: Ohio Right to Life executive director Peter Range has called the investigation an attack on the "kind, caring, competent, and loving individuals" who work at pregnancy centers.

The big picture: Crisis pregnancy centers discourage abortion and offer basic services like pregnancy tests, adoption resources and parenting classes.

  • The centers, typically nonprofits with religious affiliations, face criticism for operating without medical licenses and sometimes providing false health claims, Axios' Oriana González writes.
  • Around 14% of adult Ohio women have attended a crisis pregnancy center, per 2021 research from Ohio State University, with higher percentages for Black and low-income patients.

What we're watching: Ohio Republicans have directed millions of dollars to the centers in recent years, which they may increase.

  • Gov. Mike DeWine's latest budget proposal seeks to allocate $7 million for them each of the next two fiscal years.
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