Austin LifeCare’s North Austin Pregnancy Crisis Center location (Photo by John Anderson)
The site of the long-standing local abortion provider Whole Woman’s Health will now be the new home of Austin LifeCare, a Christian Anti-Abortion Pregnancy Crisis Center (CPC), reaffirming a troubling national trend.
The the Chronicle reported yesterday that after 16 years on I-35 and Freeway 183, Whole Woman’s Health – which has prevailed over the state of Texas and its onerous clinical regulations in Supreme Court of the United States – lost its lease to a higher competing offer in Andy schoonover of Lions Venture Partners.
Schoonover has also served as executive director of Austin LifeCare since 2017, according to the nonprofit’s federal income tax returns; he and his wife also run Bring to term, an organization that helps women who wish to give birth despite a terminal prenatal diagnosis. He prides himself on working with CPCs in 23 states. On Thursday, after our article was published, Schoonover asked us to remove our ‘inaccurate’ story and insisted Carrying to Term would not occupy the space – but did not reveal Austin LifeCare would move there. from his current home on Anderson Lane. In a letter to its investors obtained by Spectrum NewsSchoonover says the new space will offer “STD / STI testing, examinations of healthy women, cancer screenings, ultrasounds and limited non-abortion contraception.” Schoonover did not respond to our request for comment on Friday.
As a CPC, Austin LifeCare warns clients of the alleged “spiritual, emotional and psychological effects that can occur after an abortion”, offering “Bible studies” to deal with them. âA medical / chemical abortion may seem like a quick and easy fix to your unplanned pregnancy, but there are several things to consider before making that choice,â its website read, following the publicity of Free ultrasounds, which – unsaid – do not count towards Texas’ 24-hour pre-abortion ultrasound requirement. Austin LifeCare also offers âabstinence until marriageâ education programs at local schools.
During a visit to the center in 2015, the the Chronicle discovered several books that discouraged and shamed women from choosing abortion care, with overt religious tones and medical falsehoods. However, Austin LifeCare, like other CPCs in Texas, has received tens of thousands of dollars from taxpayers through the Alternatives to abortion program, while offering few real services. From 2015 to 2018, Austin LifeCare received over $ 200,000; of that, almost half went to “counseling.”
“These bogus clinics – often funded by Texan taxes – exist to deceive, manipulate and shame women who turn to them for help.” – Amy Hagstrom Miller, Founder of Whole Woman’s Health
Austin LifeCare also successfully sued the city of Austin after the Council passed a “truth in advertising” measure in 2010 requiring CPCs to notify customers through signage that they offer little service. and do not make recommendations for abortion care. They also offered to pay a higher rent if they were allowed to occupy the city-owned space on East Seventh Street, where Planned parenthood provides preventive health services (not abortions).
âEven though they weren’t forthright, there was never any question in our mind that the organization pushing us out of our space was likely to be an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center,â says Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder of Whole Woman’s Health. âThese bogus clinics – often funded by Texas taxpayer dollars – exist to deceive, manipulate and shame women who turn to them for help. Of course, their business practices reflect those habits, and this shady and misleading deal is a perfect example of the struggle abortion clinics face every day. “
Hagstrom Miller has expressed concern that many patients in his clinic, including non-English speakers, will present to CPC, confusing it with the health of the whole woman – precisely the goal of the anti-choice movement. “We fear and mourn these patients now, knowing that they will be taken in by unauthorized workers in an unregulated facility posing as medical staff, waiting to impose their political ideology on someone who just wants an abortion. . Calling the deception perpetuated by CPCs “Christian or moral,” Hagstrom Miller appeals for the solidarity of the local community. âNow, more than ever, we need the Austin community to come together with us,â she said. âWe can’t let the anti-abortion movement lie to the public like this. We’re going to stand in the light.