Abortion Clinic Displaced by Crisis Pregnancy Center

Whole Woman's Health will now be the new home to Austin LifeCare

Crisis pregnancy center Austin LifeCare’s North Austin location
Crisis pregnancy center Austin LifeCare’s North Austin location (Photo by John Anderson)

As the Chronicle reported last week, the site of longtime local abortion provider Whole Woman's Health will now be the new home to Austin LifeCare, a Christian anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center (CPC), reaffirming a troubling national trend. After 16 years at I-35 and Highway 183, WWH – which prevailed over the state of Texas and its onerous clinic regulations at the U.S. Supreme Court – lost its lease to a higher competing offer by Andy Schoonover of Lion Venture Partners. Schoonover has been the executive director of Austin LifeCare since 2017, according to the nonprofit's federal tax filings. Austin LifeCare warns its clients of the purported "spiritual, emotional, and psychological effects that can occur after an abortion," offering "Bible studies" to cope. On a visit to the center in 2015, the Chronicle discovered literature designed to discourage and shame women out of choosing abortion care, with overt religious tones and medical mistruths. However, Austin LifeCare, like other CPCs in Texas, has received tens of thousands in taxpayer dollars through the state's Alternatives to Abortion program, and in 2010 successfully sued the city of Austin to overturn its "truth in advertising" ordinance requiring CPCs to inform clients that they offer few services and do not make referrals for abortion care. Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder of Whole Woman's Health, expressed worry that many of her clinic's patients, including non-English speakers, will mistake the CPC for the clinic – precisely the goal of the anti-choice movement. "We fear and mourn for those patients now, knowing they'll be greeted by non-licensed workers in an unregulated facility posing as medical staff, waiting to force their political ideology on someone who simply wants to have an abortion." Calling the deception perpetuated by CPCs neither "Christian or moral," Hagstrom Miller is calling on solidarity from the local community. "Now, more than ever, we need the Austin community to rally behind us," she said.

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