News Abortion

Planned Parenthood Investigations Uncovering No Wrongdoing

Teddy Wilson

A series of videos that featured heavily edited footage of secretly taped conversations with Planned Parenthood officials has led to outrage from anti-choice activists and politicians who have called for investigations that have shown Planned Parenthood didn't violate any laws.

See more of our coverage on the misleading Center for Medical Progress videos here.

A series of videos that featured heavily edited footage of secretly taped conversations with Planned Parenthood officials has led to outrage from anti-choice activists and politicians who have called for investigations that have shown Planned Parenthood didn’t violate any laws.

The Center for Medical Progress, an anti-choice organization behind a series of videos spreading misinformation about Planned Parenthood, posted a fifth attack video to its YouTube channel Tuesday, failing once more to include clarifying comments from a Planned Parenthood official in its editing of the footage.

David Daleiden, the project leader of CMP, says that the videos prove that Planned Parenthood is selling fetal tissue for profit.

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“Elected officials need to listen to the public outcry for an immediate moratorium on Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding while the 10 state investigations and 3 Congressional committees determine the full extent of Planned Parenthood’s sale of baby parts.” Daleiden said in a statement following the release of CMP’s latest video last week.

Anti-choicers across the country have compared Planned Parenthood to everything from drug dealers to Nazis. However, the outcry from anti-choice lawmakers has so far yielded no tangible results.

Congressional Republicans failed to pass legislation Monday to ban Planned Parenthood from receiving public funding. Democrats organized a filibuster to block a bill that would have prohibited federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood, making those funds “available” to other entities favored by anti-choice lawmakers that provide women’s health services.

Republican lawmakers in states around the country have called for investigations and hearings, and inquiries have been announced in Arizona, Indiana, Florida, Kansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, and Texas.

Lawmakers in South Carolina have asked the state to conduct an audit of Planned Parenthood, and lawmakers in Tennessee will be holding a “fact-finding” hearing later this month.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) pushed back against state lawmakers calling for an investigation, and said that clinics in the state are licensed and highly regulated. “We in Virginia have no instances, no evidence, no complaints of any of this,” McAuliffe said, reported the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) said he would not investigate Planned Parenthood, despite calls to do so from Republican state lawmakers, including Lt. Gov Peter Kinder and state Sens. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) and Mike Parson (R- Bolivar).

“We’ve got to focus on what matters in this statecreating a good job environment, moving the economy forward, not taking the story of the day and trying to sensationalize it,” said Nixon, reported KOLR.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey conducted a review of Planned Parenthood at the request of a Republican lawmaker, and last week announced that her office found no evidence that the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts is operating a fetal tissue donation program.

“Although donation of fetal tissue is permissible under state and federal law, [the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM)] does not have a tissue donation program,” Healey said in a statement. “There is no evidence that PPLM is involved in any way in the buying or selling of tissue. As such, our review is complete.”

To date no investigations have uncovered any evidence that Planned Parenthood affiliates have broken any laws with regard to fetal tissue.

An Indiana State Department of Health investigation into Planned Parenthood-affiliated reproductive health-care clinics in the state found them in compliance with the state’s fetal tissue regulations.

“The investigation has concluded there was no evidence of this type of activity at these sites,” the Indiana State Department of Health said in a statement, reported the Indianapolis Star.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky operates three clinics that provide surgical abortion care in Indianapolis, Bloomington, and Merrillville. All of the clinics were found to be in compliance with state regulations and were not cited for any deficiencies, according to documents released by Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky does not participate in fetal tissue donation programs.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) announced Wednesday the state would investigate Planned Parenthood facilities there that provide abortion services, reported the Miami Herald.

Scott said in a statement that the CMP videos were “deeply troubling,” and that he was directing Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) Secretary Liz Dudek to begin evaluation of the 16 Planned Parenthood facilities in the state that perform abortion procedures to ensure they are in full compliance with the law.

“If a Planned Parenthood office is not following the law, we will move quickly to take legal and regulatory action against them,” Scott said. “We hold our healthcare organizations in Florida to the highest standards of safety and we expect them to fully comply with the law at all times.”

Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said in a statement that the investigation was “politically motivated,” reported the Miami Herald.

“We will, of course, cooperate fully with any investigation, but important medical issues shouldn’t be politicized,” Goodhue said. “This isn’t what people in our state want our elected officials to spend their time doing.”

Officials in GOP-dominated Florida reportedly completed their investigation of the clinics; the inspections were conducted on July 29-31.

The AHCA issued a statement Wednesday that the investigation had allegedly discovered three Planned Parenthood clinics were performing second-trimester abortions and ordered the health centers to stop providing them after ascertaining they didn’t have the proper licenses.

The agency did not find any evidence that fetal tissue was being sold illegally in Florida.

The AHCA claims that the three clinics that were in violation, located in Fort Myers, Naples, and St. Petersburg, were all inspected on July 31, according to the clinic inspection forms. The forms note the Planned Parenthood director of compliance and quality subsequently was called by an AHCA official Wednesday for a separate interview. The notes from that interview show that the Planned Parenthood official stated that the second trimester begins after 13 weeks and 6 days of gestation.

The AHCA claims that the three clinics in question were performing second-trimester abortions, citing Florida Administrative Code 59A-9.019. The inspection forms specifically cite the definition of the second trimester of pregnancy as “following the 12th week and extending through the 24th week of gestation” as the reason for why abortions performed by the clinics from 13 weeks and two days to 13 weeks and six days violate the scope of the clinic’s license.

However, the inspection forms omitted the definition of the first trimester of a pregnancy, which is defined under Florida Administrative Code 59A-9.019 as the “first 12 weeks of pregnancy (the first 14 completed weeks from the last normal menstrual period).”

“I can state unequivocally that all of our health centers are operating in full compliance with Florida law as well as best practices in reproductive health care,” Goodhue told the Tampa Bay Times. “The claim that any of our health centers are performing procedures we are not licensed to perform is false and seemingly stems from AHCA flip-flopping on their own rules and definitions of gestational periods.”

After the most recent video was released Tuesday, showing footage filmed at the Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast headquarters in Houston, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) requested the Harris County District Attorney’s Office begin a criminal investigation of Planned Parenthood.

“I am asking Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson to immediately initiate a criminal investigation of Planned Parenthood,” Patrick said in a statement. “We recently held a hearing in the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee to begin our own discovery of the facts involving this issue.“

State lawmakers held a hearing to investigate whether or not Planned Parenthood is selling fetal tissue, even though Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas have stated that they do not collect fetal tissue for donation in medical research. The more than four-hour hearing included testimony from only anti-choice activists and provided a platform for Republican lawmakers to lambast Planned Parenthood.

“This newest video makes it clear it is time for prosecutors to launch a criminal investigation in Harris County immediately,” Patrick said.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) ordered an investigation of Planned Parenthood and moved to block the organization from building a reproductive health-care facility after anti-choice activists released a video that they claim proves that Planned Parenthood is illegally selling fetal organs.

Planned Parenthood Louisiana does not operate any facilities in the state that provide abortion services, as of yet.

Jindal announced Monday that the state had terminated the organization’s Medicaid provider agreement, saying in a statement that the contract was terminated because “Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the State of Louisiana in regards to respecting human life.”

Melissa Flournoy, state director of Planned Parenthood Louisiana, said in a statement that Planned Parenthood follows all laws and regulations and provides health care following the highest medical and ethical standards.

“The source of these videos is a group of extremists,” Flournoy said. “They have intimidated women and doctors for years in their agenda to ban abortion completely and have executed 10 separate attack campaigns like this over the last eight years.”

Flournoy said that the videos have been “deceptively edited” to promote the false claim that Planned Parenthood staffers were violating laws or might violate laws. “The longer videos have shown that no laws have been broken,” Flournoy said.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) called the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts to investigate the state’s Planned Parenthood facilities after the release of CMP’s second video.

“Kansas remains committed to a culture that respects the dignity of life at all stages,” Brownback said in a statement. “Recent videos show Planned Parenthood employees treating the unborn as commodities as they discuss the sale of tissue and organs. This does not reflect the culture of life most Kansans want.”

Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said in a statement that Brownback’s call for an investigation is “politically motivated,” and that the organization’s facilities do not participate in a fetal tissue donation program.

“The fact that Planned Parenthood in Kansas does not participate in tissue donation programs underscores that calls for an investigation are about political grandstanding, not facts,” McQuade said, reported the Topeka Capital-Journal. “This is yet another orchestrated attempt to restrict access to safe, legal abortion in Kansas and to the needed services Planned Parenthood has provided for nearly 100 years. We will, of course, cooperate fully with any investigation.”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) issued a statement calling the videos released by CMP “horrifying,” and directed the Arizona Department of Health Services to conduct a review of current law and immediately promulgate emergency rules designed to prohibit the illegal sale of any fetal tissue.

Daniel Scarpinato, the governor’s spokesperson, told the Phoenix New Times that the governor’s office is drafting legislation to add extra provisions to state law that would create more paperwork that abortion providers must fill out after performing a procedure.

“It currently has questions about how old the fetus was, what gender … and [we want to add questions asking] what was done with the fetus after the abortion and whether there was any financial transaction,” he said.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement that he was “deeply disturbed” by the videos, but it was unclear how his office will assist Ducey. “While we cannot comment on the status of any possible investigation, this type of allegation is something we take very seriously,” Brnovich said.

Ryan Anderson, Brnovich’s spokesman, declined to discuss any details of how the attorney general’s office is responding to the governor’s emergency rules, reported the Arizona Republic.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) issued a statement in July saying he had ordered the state’s Department of Community Health and Department of Public Health to conduct a joint review of the clinics run by Planned Parenthood Southeast in Georgia.

Staci Fox, the CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, said the organization does not participate in fetal tissue donation, but added that reimbursement for expenses is standard procedure in the medical community when tissue is donated for scientific research.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced in July that his office is investigating whether the state’s three Planned Parenthood centers broke the law by “profiting from the sale of aborted babies.”

“My office’s Charitable Law Section is conducting an investigation to ensure that no Ohio non-profit is breaking the law or profiting from the sale of aborted babies,” DeWine said. “I encourage anyone with information about this potential illegal activity to contact my office or their local law enforcement agency.”

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who is seeking the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, called the video “abhorrent” and demanded that Planned Parenthood be “prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.”

Questions have been raised about CMP’s deceptive tactics, ideological agenda, and connections to radical and violent anti-choice activists, and the organization is also the subject of two lawsuits.

The National Abortion Federation filed a lawsuit Friday in federal court seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, which was later granted by Judge William Orrick of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, to prohibit the CMP from making public any video or audio recordings and materials of NAF educational meetings.

The lawsuits filed by NAF and StemExpress give credence to the questions that have been raised about CMP’s deceptive tactics, ideological agenda, and connections to radical and violent anti-choice activists.

In a statement responding to the lawsuits, CMP said that the organization “follows all applicable laws” while conducting investigations, and characterized the NAF as a “criminal organization.”

News Politics

NARAL President Tells Her Abortion Story at the Democratic National Convention

Ally Boguhn

Though reproductive rights and health have been discussed by both Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) while on the campaign trail, Democrats have come under fire for failing to ask about abortion care during the party’s debates.

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, told the story of her abortion on the stage of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) Wednesday evening in Philadelphia.

“Texas women are tough. We approach challenges with clear eyes and full hearts. To succeed in life, all we need are the tools, the trust, and the chance to chart our own path,” Hogue told the crowd on the third night of the party’s convention. “I was fortunate enough to have these things when I found out I was pregnant years ago. I wanted a family, but it was the wrong time.”

“I made the decision that was best for me — to have an abortion — and to get compassionate care at a clinic in my own community,” she continued. “Now, years later, my husband and I are parents to two incredible children.”

Hogue noted that her experience is similar to those of women nationwide.

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“About one in three American women have abortions by the age of 45, and the majority are mothers just trying to take care of the families they already have,” she said. “You see, it’s not as simple as bad girls get abortions and good girls have families. We are the same women at different times in our lives — each making decisions that are the best for us.”

As reported by Yahoo News, “Asked if she was the first to have spoken at a Democratic National Convention about having had an abortion for reasons other than a medical crisis, Hogue replied, ‘As far as I know.'”

Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards on Tuesday night was the first speaker at the DNC in Philadelphia to say the word “abortion” on stage, according to Vox’s Emily Crockett. 

Richards’ use of the word abortion was deliberate, and saying the word helps address the stigma that surrounds it, Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s Vice President of Communication Mary Alice Carter said in an interview with ThinkProgress. 

“When we talk about reproductive health, we talk about the full range of reproductive health, and that includes access to abortion. So we’re very deliberate in saying we stand up for a woman’s right to access an abortion,” Carter said.

“There is so much stigma around abortion and so many people that sit in shame and don’t talk about their abortion, and so it’s very important to have the head of Planned Parenthood say ‘abortion,’ it’s very important for any woman who’s had an abortion to say ‘abortion,’ and it’s important for us to start sharing those stories and start bringing it out of the shadows and recognizing that it’s a normal experience,” she added.

Though reproductive rights and health have been discussed by both Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) while on the campaign trail, Democrats have come under fire for failing to ask about abortion care during the party’s debates. In April, Clinton called out moderators for failing to ask “about a woman’s right to make her own decisions about reproductive health care” over the course of eight debates—though she did not use the term abortion in her condemnation.

Analysis Economic Justice

New Pennsylvania Bill Is Just One Step Toward Helping Survivors of Economic Abuse

Annamarya Scaccia

The legislation would allow victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking to terminate their lease early or request locks be changed if they have "a reasonable fear" that they will continue to be harmed while living in their unit.

Domestic violence survivors often face a number of barriers that prevent them from leaving abusive situations. But a new bill awaiting action in the Pennsylvania legislature would let survivors in the state break their rental lease without financial repercussions—potentially allowing them to avoid penalties to their credit and rental history that could make getting back on their feet more challenging. Still, the bill is just one of several policy improvements necessary to help survivors escape abusive situations.

Right now in Pennsylvania, landlords can take action against survivors who break their lease as a means of escape. That could mean a lien against the survivor or an eviction on their credit report. The legislation, HB 1051, introduced by Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery County), would allow victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking to terminate their lease early or request locks be changed if they have “a reasonable fear” that they will continue to be harmed while living in their unit. The bipartisan bill, which would amend the state’s Landlord and Tenant Act, requires survivors to give at least 30 days’ notice of their intent to be released from the lease.

Research shows survivors often return to or delay leaving abusive relationships because they either can’t afford to live independently or have little to no access to financial resources. In fact, a significant portion of homeless women have cited domestic violence as the leading cause of homelessness.

“As a society, we get mad at survivors when they don’t leave,” Kim Pentico, economic justice program director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), told Rewire. “You know what, her name’s on this lease … That’s going to impact her ability to get and stay safe elsewhere.”

“This is one less thing that’s going to follow her in a negative way,” she added.

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Pennsylvania landlords have raised concerns about the law over liability and rights of other tenants, said Ellen Kramer, deputy director of program services at the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which submitted a letter in support of the bill to the state House of Representatives. Lawmakers have considered amendments to the bill—like requiring “proof of abuse” from the courts or a victim’s advocate—that would heed landlord demands while still attempting to protect survivors.

But when you ask a survivor to go to the police or hospital to obtain proof of abuse, “it may put her in a more dangerous position,” Kramer told Rewire, noting that concessions that benefit landlords shift the bill from being victim-centered.

“It’s a delicate balancing act,” she said.

The Urban Affairs Committee voted HB 1051 out of committee on May 17. The legislation was laid on the table on June 23, but has yet to come up for a floor vote. Whether the bill will move forward is uncertain, but proponents say that they have support at the highest levels of government in Pennsylvania.

“We have a strong advocate in Governor Wolf,” Kramer told Rewire.

Financial Abuse in Its Many Forms

Economic violence is a significant characteristic of domestic violence, advocates say. An abuser will often control finances in the home, forcing their victim to hand over their paycheck and not allow them access to bank accounts, credit cards, and other pecuniary resources. Many abusers will also forbid their partner from going to school or having a job. If the victim does work or is a student, the abuser may then harass them on campus or at their place of employment until they withdraw or quit—if they’re not fired.

Abusers may also rack up debt, ruin their partner’s credit score, and cancel lines of credit and insurance policies in order to exact power and control over their victim. Most offenders will also take money or property away from their partner without permission.

“Financial abuse is so multifaceted,” Pentico told Rewire.

Pentico relayed the story of one survivor whose abuser smashed her cell phone because it would put her in financial dire straits. As Pentico told it, the abuser stole her mobile phone, which was under a two-year contract, and broke it knowing that the victim could not afford a new handset. The survivor was then left with a choice of paying for a bill on a phone she could no longer use or not paying the bill at all and being turned into collections, which would jeopardize her ability to rent her own apartment or switch to a new carrier. “Things she can’t do because he smashed her smartphone,” Pentico said.

“Now the general public [could] see that as, ‘It’s a phone, get over it,'” she told Rewire. “Smashing that phone in a two-year contract has such ripple effects on her financial world and on her ability to get and stay safe.”

In fact, members of the public who have not experienced domestic abuse may overlook financial abuse or minimize it. A 2009 national poll from the Allstate Foundation—the philanthropic arm of the Illinois-based insurance company—revealed that nearly 70 percent of Americans do not associate financial abuse with domestic violence, even though it’s an all-too-common tactic among abusers: Economic violence happens in 98 percent of abusive relationships, according to the NNEDV.

Why people fail to make this connection can be attributed, in part, to the lack of legal remedy for financial abuse, said Carol Tracy, executive director of the Women’s Law Project, a public interest law center in Pennsylvania. A survivor can press criminal charges or seek a civil protection order when there’s physical abuse, but the country’s legal justice system has no equivalent for economic or emotional violence, whether the victim is married to their abuser or not, she said.

Some advocates, in lieu of recourse through the courts, have teamed up with foundations to give survivors individual tools to use in economically abusive situations. In 2005, the NNEDV partnered with the Allstate Foundation to develop a curriculum that would teach survivors about financial abuse and financial safety. Through the program, survivors are taught about financial safety planning including individual development accounts, IRA, microlending credit repair, and credit building services.

State coalitions can receive grant funding to develop or improve economic justice programs for survivors, as well as conduct economic empowerment and curriculum trainings with local domestic violence groups. In 2013—the most recent year for which data is available—the foundation awarded $1 million to state domestic violence coalitions in grants that ranged from $50,000 to $100,000 to help support their economic justice work.

So far, according to Pentico, the curriculum has performed “really great” among domestic violence coalitions and its clients. Survivors say they are better informed about economic justice and feel more empowered about their own skills and abilities, which has allowed them to make sounder financial decisions.

This, in turn, has allowed them to escape abuse and stay safe, she said.

“We for a long time chose to see money and finances as sort of this frivolous piece of the safety puzzle,” Pentico told Rewire. “It really is, for many, the piece of the puzzle.”

Public Policy as a Means of Economic Justice

Still, advocates say that public policy, particularly disparate workplace conditions, plays an enormous role in furthering financial abuse. The populations who are more likely to be victims of domestic violence—women, especially trans women and those of color—are also the groups more likely to be underemployed or unemployed. A 2015 LGBT Health & Human Services Network survey, for example, found that 28 percent of working-age transgender women were unemployed and out of school.

“That’s where [economic abuse] gets complicated,” Tracy told Rewire. “Some of it is the fault of the abuser, and some of it is the public policy failures that just don’t value women’s participation in the workforce.”

Victims working low-wage jobs often cannot save enough to leave an abusive situation, advocates say. What they do make goes toward paying bills, basic living needs, and their share of housing expenses—plus child-care costs if they have kids. In the end, they’re not left with much to live on—that is, if their abuser hasn’t taken away access to their own earnings.

“The ability to plan your future, the ability to get away from [abuse], that takes financial resources,” Tracy told Rewire. “It’s just so much harder when you don’t have them and when you’re frightened, and you’re frightened for yourself and your kids.”

Public labor policy can also inhibit a survivor’s ability to escape. This year, five states, Washington, D.C., and 24 jurisdictions will have passed or enacted paid sick leave legislation, according to A Better Balance, a family and work legal center in New York City. As of April, only one of those states—California—also passed a state paid family leave insurance law, which guarantees employees receive pay while on leave due to pregnancy, disability, or serious health issues. (New Jersey, Rhode Island, Washington, and New York have passed similar laws.) Without access to paid leave, Tracy said, survivors often cannot “exercise one’s rights” to file a civil protection order, attend court hearings, or access housing services or any other resource needed to escape violence.

Furthermore, only a handful of state laws protect workers from discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy or familial status (North Carolina, on the other hand, recently passed a draconian state law that permits wide-sweeping bias in public and the workplace). There is no specific federal law that protects LGBTQ workers, but the U.S. Employment Opportunity Commission has clarified that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Still, that doesn’t necessarily translate into practice. For example, the National Center for Transgender Equality found that 26 percent of transgender people were let go or fired because of anti-trans bias, while 50 percent of transgender workers reported on-the-job harassment. Research shows transgender people are at a higher risk of being fired because of their trans identity, which would make it harder for them to leave an abusive relationship.

“When issues like that intersect with domestic violence, it’s devastating,” Tracy told Rewire. “Frequently it makes it harder, if not impossible, for [victims] to leave battering situations.”

For many survivors, their freedom from abuse also depends on access to public benefits. Programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the child and dependent care credit, and earned income tax credit give low-income survivors access to the money and resources needed to be on stable economic ground. One example: According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, where a family of three has one full-time nonsalary worker earning $10 an hour, SNAP can increase their take-home income by up to 20 percent.

These programs are “hugely important” in helping lift survivors and their families out of poverty and offset the financial inequality they face, Pentico said.

“When we can put cash in their pocket, then they may have the ability to then put a deposit someplace or to buy a bus ticket to get to family,” she told Rewire.

But these programs are under constant attack by conservative lawmakers. In March, the House Republicans approved a 2017 budget plan that would all but gut SNAP by more than $150 million over the next ten years. (Steep cuts already imposed on the food assistance program have led to as many as one million unemployed adults losing their benefits over the course of this year.) The House GOP budget would also strip nearly $500 billion from other social safety net programs including TANF, child-care assistance, and the earned income tax credit.

By slashing spending and imposing severe restrictions on public benefits, politicians are guaranteeing domestic violence survivors will remain stuck in a cycle of poverty, advocates say. They will stay tethered to their abuser because they will be unable to have enough money to live independently.

“When women leave in the middle of the night with the clothes on their back, kids tucked under their arms, come into shelter, and have no access to finances or resources, I can almost guarantee you she’s going to return,” Pentico told Rewire. “She has to return because she can’t afford not to.”

By contrast, advocates say that improving a survivor’s economic security largely depends on a state’s willingness to remedy what they see as public policy failures. Raising the minimum wage, mandating equal pay, enacting paid leave laws, and prohibiting employment discrimination—laws that benefit the entire working class—will make it much less likely that a survivor will have to choose between homelessness and abuse.

States can also pass proactive policies like the bill proposed in Pennsylvania, to make it easier for survivors to leave abusive situations in the first place. Last year, California enacted a law that similarly allows abuse survivors to terminate their lease without getting a restraining order or filing a police report permanent. Virginia also put in place an early lease-termination law for domestic violence survivors in 2013.

A “more equitable distribution of wealth is what we need, what we’re talking about,” Tracy told Rewire.

As Pentico put it, “When we can give [a survivor] access to finances that help her get and stay safe for longer, her ability to protect herself and her children significantly increases.”