Analysis Race

The Voter ID Struggle in Pennsylvania: Losing ID Is about Losing More than the Right to Vote

Hannah Jane Sassaman

We’re taking up a collection at my office, here at the Media Mobilizing Project in Philadelphia, PA, for some of our radio producers and campaigners. 

We’re taking up a collection at my office, here at the Media Mobilizing Project in Philadelphia, PA, for some of our radio producers and campaigners. 

For six years, we’ve believed that the right to speak means little without the right to be heard—and hundreds of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania residents have agreed with us.  We’re poor and working people producing media that tells the untold stories of people in Pennsylvania—and developing those people into leaders united to change our city and state. We’re a tight crew, so when folks are having trouble, we come together to help each other out. One young man, Marco (not his real name), is a producer at Radio Unidad, Philadelphia’s only Spanish-language community news show. Andres and Paulita (not their real names) are leaders in another immigrant rights campaign that’s been meeting since January. Even though they work hard, support families, and in many cases own homes and pay taxes–the state has unceremoniously cancelled their drivers’ licenses, saying that the Tax ID numbers they used to get their licenses aren’t proof enough of their right to live in the US. 

But they have families to support, and work to do. So they get in their cars and drive— hoping for the best. But they were stopped by the police, and charged fines of several hundred, up to a thousand dollars, for driving without licenses. They need to drive to work, to pay those fees. And they might get stopped again, and again—and their hard-earned money will go to filling the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s coffers. And that’s what gets me.

As Charlene Carruthers said in her powerful piece on the relationship between voter suppression and reproductive rights, the current fight to make sure that thousands of Pennsylvanians without ID get to vote is important—vital—to making sure that our communities get to the polls to make important decisions on the direction of our state and country. Recent data from the Pennsylvania Department of State, processed and analyzed by the labor federation AFL-CIO, shows that 20 percent of Pennsylvania voters—and 43 percent of Philadelphia voters—might not possess ID valid enough to get them into the voting booth. But we need to understand two things. 

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First – when states take away ID from poor and working folks, or limit poor and working people’s access to getting ID in the first place – those people lose far more than their right to vote. They often lose their right to work, to bank without exorbitant fees, to get benefits for which they and their family qualify, and, as noted, to drive even though they’ve passed a drivers’ test. They become even more invisible in our society, and state governments and corporations profit off of their struggle to meet their and their families’ daily needs.

And second, when the state limits access to ID and access to society unless you have a valid ID, it also takes away the rights of multiple communities, in many locations in the state, from many different kinds of people who need ID for different reasons. When the electorate is divided—immigrants from citizens, poor from near and new poor, working class from middle class—everyone loses. In order to change that reality, we need to do more than re-empower folks without ID to get their chance to vote… though that matters. First, we need to frame the voter ID fight as one that unites everyone who has lost access to the tools necessary to build a dignified life–no matter where they live and who they are. We need to do the hard movement-building work of uniting poor and working people across rural and urban, race, and origin lines so Pennsylvanians are powerful enough to never lose their right to vote again.

Bringing the voices together:  What you lose when you lose your ID

After years of knitting together student, immigrant, low-wage worker, and other communities across Philadelphia with community media production, storytelling, and study and leadership development programs, we trained a team of 30 folks to canvass areas of Philadelphia that probably haven’t had a door knocked by an organizer for a little while. MMP leaders—poor and working people from across the city—fanned out in the neighborhood around 52nd and Sansom, a low-income West Philly area where the city had ordered rolling brownouts and regular closures of local fire stations in an attempt by Mayor Nutter to save money in a growing budget crisis. 

We surveyed residents on the struggles they were facing–learning about folks getting by without jobs, without healthcare, with aging relatives or young kids to support. We cared about the context: What did it mean when Philly cuts services in your community, when you’re already going through so much?

As we knocked on doors, we met one gentleman who had served time in prison, but who’d been home, back in his community, for 12 years. For all that time, he hasn’t had an ID.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University has described how recent laws passed in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and a handful of other states will affect the rights of Americans to vote. But the right to vote might be the smallest thing on the minds of people locked out of society without an ID.

Lack of ID: One more blow to the poor

Many of the undocumented immigrants who came to the United States for work didn’t have ID at home, either, because their parents were too poor to secure birth certificates and other documents for them at home. When they travel to the United States for work, they don’t have the consular papers or passports that other immigrants have, and they can’t get GEDs or marry. If deported, they are more likely to be separated from their families.

Ex-offenders find it challenging to get IDs, a necessary first step to applying for and securing a job that allows someone coming home from prison to leave behind street hustles or other ways or making money. As recently as 2007, Michigan parolees were given parole ID cards with a prison photo and ID number, but, according to the Michigan Poverty Law Program, parolees couldn’t use these cards to secure state services, or exchange their ID for a state one.

One Pennsylvania group, Impact Services Corporation, has helped more than 3000 ex-offender Pennsylvanians connect to jobs and more than 1000 get the IDs they need after serving their sentences. But, according to Impact, 35,000 ex-offenders return to Philadelphia alone each year from local, state, or federal prisons. Groups like Impact are helping, but ex-offenders need more. Having an ID is the first step.

(Oh, and of course, ex-offenders have the right to vote in Pennsylvania, but if they can’t get IDs, now they really can’t vote).

Residents without ID are locked out of affordable digital access and all the deals and purchasing power online access provides.  Comcast, the cable, broadband, voice over IP phone and NBC content company, rules the roost in Philly, where it is headquartered here and serves as the major telecom provider. But in order to get Comcast service, you need to have a credit history (hard to establish without valid ID), pay a large deposit, or prove who you are at a Comcast Service Center with a social security number or driver’s license. Without online access, poor and working people also don’t have access to many of the tools that allow people to get out of poverty. It’s hard to research scholarships for school, job opportunities, and available government benefits if you can’t get online. You can’t even get a MegaBus ticket for the most affordable advertised price of $1, find inexpensive hotels or plane tickets (not that you could get on a plane or into a hotel without ID), or invest hard earned money to make it work for you.

Without ID: A shared struggle of millions of poor and working people in the US

Some of the folks in Pennsylvanis who don’t have ID are undocumented immigrants.  Some are people who’ve served their time. Others are seniors who have never needed papers to prove who they were in towns where they raised children and grandchildren.  More are folks who have reason to distrust a system increasingly interested in asking residents for papers, or folks who had ID and haven’t gotten a chance to get it renewed.  But most importantly, when State Representative Mike Turzai said that requiring voter ID would allow Governor Romney to win the state, he likely wasn’t just thinking of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh; and he probably wasn’t just thinking about the top of the ticket. Pennsylvania has kept an overwhelming Republican majority in the State Senate for over ten years, and a majority Republican house since 2010, a majority they aim to increase and solidify, by isolating poor and working people from each other. 

While unemployed people in Philadelphia are primarily people of color, 75 percent of those without jobs in the rest of the state are white, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State. And according to estimates made based on the 2010 Census, more rural people than urban residents are poor (14.2 percent percent instead of 13.2 percent, and that’s just according to the stingy federal definitions of poverty.

We need to fight against this voter ID law. And we need to win. But media messages and government policies have divided us in the cities from our natural community in smaller cities and rural areas in this state and in this country. What does uniting across these geographies, and across race and color lines, look like?

Carmen Cuadrado lives in a North Philly community that the city of Philadelphia calls “blighted.” When she saw her neighbors lose their homes for pennies on the dollar, she joined with Rosemary Cubas’ Community Leadership Institute to save her neighbors’ homes. “I joined Community Leadership Institute because I knew that it was needed in the area,” says Carmen, “And I’d seen that redevelopment was just a way of moving us—the low income families—out of our neighborhood.”

After years of learning and leading at MMP, Carmen is now a member of our Executive Committee. As part of our listening and storytelling campaign, she travelled with other MMP leaders across the state to collect stories that show how much our struggles have in common. They met with residents of Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania’s Riverdale Village Mobile Home Park, 37 families that are being evicted from their community to make way for a water extraction plant that will supply natural gas fracking operations.

“Now that I own my own place… now, I’m losing it,” said Amber Daniels in the video MMP produced with this community. “For once in my life, and now I’ve got to give it up, either go live in a camper, or under a bridge. Where else do you have to go?”

In talking together, Carmen, other MMP members, and Jersey Shore leaders saw that poor homeowners in North Philly and rural trailer park communities in central PA had something powerful in common. MMP and other groups in Pennsylvania—and in other states across the country—are working to bring us together as a true 99 percent. While we must invest now in the struggle to make sure that we can vote, consider the power we will wield when thousands, millions of votes each represent an informed, powerful person united with their brothers and sisters. We are working to see ourselves as a class of people who, united, can make sure that no state government ever has the power to take away our right to vote—or to live in dignity—again. 

Analysis Abortion

‘Pro-Life’ Pence Transfers Money Intended for Vulnerable Households to Anti-Choice Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Jenn Stanley

Donald Trump's running mate has said that "life is winning in Indiana"—and the biggest winner is probably a chain of crisis pregnancy centers that landed a $3.5 million contract in funds originally intended for poor Hoosiers.

Much has been made of Republican Gov. Mike Pence’s record on LGBTQ issues. In 2000, when he was running for U.S. representative, Pence wrote that “Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexual’s [sic] as a ‘discreet and insular minority’ [sic] entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities.” He also said that funds meant to help people living with HIV or AIDS should no longer be given to organizations that provide HIV prevention services because they “celebrate and encourage” homosexual activity. Instead, he proposed redirecting those funds to anti-LGBTQ “conversion therapy” programs, which have been widely discredited by the medical community as being ineffective and dangerous.

Under Pence, ideology has replaced evidence in many areas of public life. In fact, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has just hired a running mate who, in the past year, has reallocated millions of dollars in public funds intended to provide food and health care for needy families to anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers.

Gov. Pence, who declined multiple requests for an interview with Rewire, has been outspoken about his anti-choice agenda. Currently, Indiana law requires people seeking abortions to receive in-person “counseling” and written information from a physician or other health-care provider 18 hours before the abortion begins. And thanks, in part, to other restrictive laws making it more difficult for clinics to operate, there are currently six abortion providers in Indiana, and none in the northern part of the state. Only four of Indiana’s 92 counties have an abortion provider. All this means that many people in need of abortion care are forced to take significant time off work, arrange child care, and possibly pay for a place to stay overnight in order to obtain it.

This environment is why a contract quietly signed by Pence last fall with the crisis pregnancy center umbrella organization Real Alternatives is so potentially dangerous for Indiana residents seeking abortion: State-subsidized crisis pregnancy centers not only don’t provide abortion but seek to persuade people out of seeking abortion, thus limiting their options.

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“Indiana is committed to the health, safety, and wellbeing [sic] of Hoosier families, women, and children,” reads the first line of the contract between the Indiana State Department of Health and Real Alternatives. The contract, which began on October 1, 2015, allocates $3.5 million over the course of a year for Real Alternatives to use to fund crisis pregnancy centers throughout the state.

Where Funding Comes From

The money for the Real Alternatives contract comes from Indiana’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, a federally funded, state-run program meant to support the most vulnerable households with children. The program was created by the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act signed by former President Bill Clinton. It changed welfare from a federal program that gave money directly to needy families to one that gave money, and a lot of flexibility with how to use it, to the states.

This TANF block grant is supposed to provide low-income families a monthly cash stipend that can be used for rent, child care, and food. But states have wide discretion over these funds: In general, they must use the money to serve families with children, but they can also fund programs meant, for example, to promote marriage. They can also make changes to the requirements for fund eligibility.

As of 2012, to be eligible for cash assistance in Indiana, a household’s maximum monthly earnings could not exceed $377, the fourth-lowest level of qualification of all 50 states, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. Indiana’s program also has some of the lowest maximum payouts to recipients in the country.

Part of this is due to a 2011 work requirement that stripped eligibility from many families. Under the new work requirement, a parent or caretaker receiving assistance needs to be “engaged in work once the State determines the parent or caretaker is ready to engage in work,” or after 24 months of receiving benefits. The maximum time allowed federally for a family to receive assistance is 60 months.

“There was a TANF policy change effective November 2011 that required an up-front job search to be completed at the point of application before we would proceed in authorizing TANF benefits,” Jim Gavin, a spokesman for the state’s Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA), told Rewire. “Most [applicants] did not complete the required job search and thus applications were denied.”

Unspent money from the block grant can be carried over to following years. Indiana receives an annual block grant of $206,799,109, but the state hasn’t been using all of it thanks to those low payouts and strict eligibility requirements. The budget for the Real Alternatives contract comes from these carry-over funds.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, TANF is explicitly meant to clothe and feed children, or to create programs that help prevent “non-marital childbearing,” and Indiana’s contract with Real Alternatives does neither. The contract stipulates that Real Alternatives and its subcontractors must “actively promote childbirth instead of abortion.” The funds, the contract says, cannot be used for organizations that will refer clients to abortion providers or promote contraceptives as a way to avoid unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

Parties involved in the contract defended it to Rewire by saying they provide material goods to expecting and new parents, but Rewire obtained documents that showed a much different reality.

Real Alternatives is an anti-choice organization run by Kevin Bagatta, a Pennsylvania lawyer who has no known professional experience with medical or mental health services. It helps open, finance, and refer clients to crisis pregnancy centers. The program started in Pennsylvania, where it received a $30 million, five-year grant to support a network of 40 subcontracting crisis pregnancy centers. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale called for an audit of the organization between June 2012 and June 2015 after hearing reports of mismanaged funds, and found $485,000 in inappropriate billing. According to the audit, Real Alternatives would not permit DHS to review how the organization used those funds. However, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in April that at least some of the money appears to have been designated for programs outside the state.

Real Alternatives also received an $800,000 contract in Michigan, which inspired Gov. Pence to fund a $1 million yearlong pilot program in northern Indiana in the fall of 2014.

“The widespread success [of the pilot program] and large demand for these services led to the statewide expansion of the program,” reads the current $3.5 million contract. It is unclear what measures the state used to define “success.”

 

“Every Other Baby … Starts With Women’s Care Center”

Real Alternatives has 18 subcontracting centers in Indiana; 15 of them are owned by Women’s Care Center, a chain of crisis pregnancy centers. According to its website, Women’s Care Center serves 25,000 women annually in 23 centers throughout Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Women’s Care Centers in Indiana received 18 percent of their operating budget from state’s Real Alternatives program during the pilot year, October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015, which were mostly reimbursements for counseling and classes throughout pregnancy, rather than goods and services for new parents.

In fact, instead of the dispensation of diapers and food, “the primary purpose of the [Real Alternatives] program is to provide core services consisting of information, sharing education, and counseling that promotes childbirth and assists pregnant women in their decision regarding adoption or parenting,” the most recent contract reads.

The program’s reimbursement system prioritizes these anti-choice classes and counseling sessions: The more they bill for, the more likely they are to get more funding and thus open more clinics.

“This performance driven [sic] reimbursement system rewards vendor service providers who take their program reimbursement and reinvest in their services by opening more centers and hiring more counselors to serve more women in need,” reads the contract.

Classes, which are billed as chastity classes, parenting classes, pregnancy classes, and childbirth classes, are reimbursed at $21.80 per client. Meanwhile, as per the most recent contract, counseling sessions, which are separate from the classes, are reimbursed by the state at minimum rates of $1.09 per minute.

Jenny Hunsberger, vice president of Women’s Care Center, told Rewire that half of all pregnant women in Elkhart, LaPorte, Marshall, and St. Joseph Counties, and one in four pregnant women in Allen County, are clients of their centers. To receive any material goods, such as diapers, food, and clothing, she said, all clients must receive this counseling, at no cost to them. Such counseling is billed by the minute for reimbursement.

“When every other baby born [in those counties] starts with Women’s Care Center, that’s a lot of minutes,” Hunsberger told Rewire.

Rewire was unable to verify exactly what is said in those counseling sessions, except that they are meant to encourage clients to carry their pregnancies to term and to help them decide between adoption or child rearing, according to Hunsberger. As mandated by the contract, both counseling and classes must “provide abstinence education as the best and only method of avoiding unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.”

In the first quarter of the new contract alone, Women’s Care Center billed Real Alternatives and, in turn, the state, $239,290.97; about $150,000 of that was for counseling, according to documents obtained by Rewire. In contrast, goods like food, diapers, and other essentials for new parents made up only about 18.5 percent of Women’s Care Center’s first-quarter reimbursements.

Despite the fact that the state is paying for counseling at Women’s Care Center, Rewire was unable to find any licensing for counselors affiliated with the centers. Hunsberger told Rewire that counseling assistants and counselors complete a minimum training of 200 hours overseen by a master’s level counselor, but the counselors and assistants do not all have social work or psychology degrees. Hunsberger wrote in an email to Rewire that “a typical Women’s Care Center is staffed with one or more highly skilled counselors, MSW or equivalent.”

Rewire followed up for more information regarding what “typical” or “equivalent” meant, but Hunsberger declined to answer. A search for licenses for the known counselors at Women’s Care Center’s Indiana locations turned up nothing. The Indiana State Department of Health told Rewire that it does not monitor or regulate the staff at Real Alternatives’ subcontractors, and both Women’s Care Center and Real Alternatives were uncooperative when asked for more information regarding their counseling staff and training.

Bethany Christian Services and Heartline Pregnancy Center, Real Alternatives’ other Indiana subcontractors, billed the program $380.41 and $404.39 respectively in the first quarter. They billed only for counseling sessions, and not goods or classes.

In a 2011 interview with Philadelphia City Paper, Kevin Bagatta said that Real Alternatives counselors were not required to have a degree.

“We don’t provide medical services. We provide human services,” Bagatta told the City Paper.

There are pregnancy centers in Indiana that provide a full range of referrals for reproductive health care, including for STI testing and abortion. However, they are not eligible for reimbursement under the Real Alternatives contract because they do not maintain an anti-choice mission.

Parker Dockray is the executive director of Backline, an all-options pregnancy resource center. She told Rewire that Backline serves hundreds of Indiana residents each month, and is overwhelmed by demand for diapers and other goods, but it is ineligible for the funding because it will refer women to abortion providers if they choose not to carry a pregnancy to term.

“At a time when so many Hoosier families are struggling to make ends meet, it is irresponsible for the state to divert funds intended to support low-income women and children and give it to organizations that provide biased pregnancy counseling,” Dockray told Rewire. “We wish that Indiana would use this funding to truly support families by providing job training, child care, and other safety net services, rather than using it to promote an anti-abortion agenda.”

“Life Is Winning in Indiana”

Time and again, Bagatta and Hunsberger stressed to Rewire that their organizations do not employ deceitful tactics to get women in the door and to convince them not to have abortions. However, multiple studies have proven that crisis pregnancy centers often lie to women from the moment they search online for an abortion provider through the end of their appointments inside the center.

These studies have also shown that publicly funded crisis pregnancy centers dispense medically inaccurate information to clients. In addition to spreading lies like abortion causing infertility or breast cancer, they are known to give false hopes of miscarriages to people who are pregnant and don’t want to be. A 2015 report by NARAL Pro-Choice America found this practice to be ubiquitous in centers throughout the United States, and Rewire found that Women’s Care Center is no exception. The organization’s website says that as many as 40 percent of pregnancies end in natural miscarriage. While early pregnancy loss is common, it occurs in about 10 percent of known pregnancies, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Crisis pregnancy centers also tend to crop up next to abortion clinics with flashy, deceitful signs that lead many to mistakenly walk into the wrong building. Once inside, clients are encouraged not to have an abortion.

A Google search for “abortion” and “Indianapolis” turns up an ad for the Women’s Care Center as the first result. It reads: “Abortion – Indianapolis – Free Ultrasound before Abortion. Located on 86th and Georgetown. We’re Here to Help – Call Us Today: Abortion, Ultrasound, Locations, Pregnancy.”

Hunsberger denies any deceit on the part of Women’s Care Center.

“Clients who walk in the wrong door are informed that we are not the abortion clinic and that we do not provide abortions,” Hunsberger told Rewire. “Often a woman will choose to stay or return because we provide services that she feels will help her make the best decision for her, including free medical-grade pregnancy tests and ultrasounds which help determine viability and gestational age.”

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky told Rewire that since Women’s Care Center opened on 86th and Georgetown in Indianapolis, many patients looking for its Georgetown Health Center have walked through the “wrong door.”

“We have had patients miss appointments because they went into their building and were kept there so long they missed their scheduled time,” Judi Morrison, vice president of marketing and education, told Rewire.

Sarah Bardol, director of Women’s Care Center’s Indianapolis clinic, told the Criterion Online Edition, a publication of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, that the first day the center was open, a woman and her boyfriend did walk into the “wrong door” hoping to have an abortion.

“The staff of the new Women’s Care Center in Indianapolis, located just yards from the largest abortion provider in the state, hopes for many such ‘wrong-door’ incidents as they seek to help women choose life for their unborn babies,” reported the Criterion Online Edition.

If they submit to counseling, Hoosiers who walk into the “wrong door” and “choose life” can receive up to about $40 in goods over the course their pregnancy and the first year of that child’s life. Perhaps several years ago they may have been eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, but now with the work requirement, they may not qualify.

In a February 2016 interview with National Right to Life, one of the nation’s most prominent anti-choice groups, Gov. Pence said, “Life is winning in Indiana.” Though Pence was referring to the Real Alternatives contract, and the wave of anti-choice legislation sweeping through the state, it’s not clear what “life is winning” actually means. The state’s opioid epidemic claimed 1,172 lives in 2014, a statistically significant increase from the previous year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV infections have spread dramatically throughout the state, in part because of Pence’s unwillingness to support medically sound prevention practices. Indiana’s infant mortality rate is above the national average, and infant mortality among Black babies is even higher. And Pence has reduced access to prevention services such as those offered by Planned Parenthood through budget cuts and unnecessary regulations—while increasing spending on anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers.

Gov. Pence’s track record shows that these policies are no mistake. The medical and financial needs of his most vulnerable constituents have taken a backseat to religious ideology throughout his time in office. He has literally reallocated money for poor Hoosiers to fund anti-choice organizations. In his tenure as both a congressman and a governor, he’s proven that whether on a national or state level, he’s willing to put “pro-life” over quality-of-life for his constituents.

News Abortion

Leading Anti-Choice ‘Expert’ Suggests Women Turn to Crisis Pregnancy Centers to Cope With Abortion Restrictions

Ally Boguhn

Though crisis pregnancy centers often lie to women to persuade them not get an abortion, Priscilla Coleman suggested that people dealing with the additional financial and geographical barriers imposed by waiting periods turn to those organizations for help.

A leading anti-choice “expert” suggested during an interview with Rewire at the National Right to Life Convention last week that women should turn to crisis pregnancy centers to cope with the barriers to abortion care, including obstacles she helped create.

Priscilla Coleman, one of the “False Witnesses” previously featured on Rewire for her egregious falsehoods about the supposed link between abortion and mental health, said that the “scientific information” she provides in her speaking engagements and through her nonprofit, the World Expert Consortium for Abortion Research and Education (WECARE), has helped get anti-choice bills passed in states, particularly South Dakota.

Though her work has been widely discredited by the scientific and medical community, Coleman has nonetheless frequently appeared as an “expert witness” in trials and hearings. As Coleman told Rewire, she is “not a medical doctor” but has nonetheless “been really involved for ten years now with South Dakota” and its anti-choice legislation. This included the South Dakota Informed Consent Law (HB 1166), and what she deemed to be an “anti-coercion bill,” seemingly referring to HB 1217, which requires that a woman seeking an abortion wait 72 hours and visit a crisis pregnancy center prior to the abortion.

Coleman acknowledged that the anti-choice laws in the state such as the waiting period had created barriers to care, as “women have to … get a hotel, you know, or find a way back” to clinics.

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“And that’s the complaint on the other side, that it’s making access more difficult,” Coleman went on, “but as all the data out there is showing the long-term effects of abortion, spending three more days to make the decision is in the women’s best interest, no matter what side you’re on.”

When pressed to respond to those who note that anti-choice restrictions make accessing abortion more difficult, Coleman replied that she “would just say that it’s worth a three-day hotel room and … if you’re going to pay for an abortion, allow an extra couple hundred dollars … to take some time because it has lifetime implications.”

Coleman, however, struggled to account for how one might come up with that money.

“Well, they’re somehow coming up with the money for the abortion,” said Coleman. “I’m not familiar enough with fees and things, but my understanding is that most women, no matter how poor they are, still have to pay for the procedure. Is that correct?”

Though crisis pregnancy centers often lie to women to persuade them not get an abortion, Coleman suggested that those dealing with the additional financial and geographical barriers imposed by waiting periods turn to those organizations for help.

“I’m sure that if they contacted crisis pregnancy centers … women could find a place to stay for a couple of days,” said Coleman. “I’m sure that many people affiliated with those centers would be happy to house the women in their own home if there is a room for them.”

The other anti-choice law Coleman connected herself with, HB 1166, uses the same falsehoods she claims her research supports. South Dakota’s so-called informed consent law requires doctors to receive consent prior to performing an abortion, and mandates that physicians provide those seeking care with written information that, among other things, falsely claims there is a connection between abortion and both “depression and related psychological distress” and “increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide.”

Coleman “served as an expert in South Dakota” after Planned Parenthood affiliates challenged the legislation, according to WECARE’s website.

As the Guttmacher Institute explains, all states already require patients consent prior to receiving medical care, and materials provided by the states that require mandated abortion counseling often offer “information that is irrelevant or misleading.”