Anti-Abortion Crisis Pregnancy Centers Received Millions in PPP Loans

Anti-Abortion Crisis Pregnancy Centers Received Millions in PPP Loans
Trump shushes journalists before signing the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act on June 5, 2020. Image:Chip Somodevilla (Getty Images)

The Paycheck Protection Program, meant to help businesses weather the impacts of the covid-19 pandemic, has been rife with allegations of corruption and mismanagement, with loans going to large corporations while many small businesses, particularly Black-run businesses, have been unable to access much-needed support. But if you run an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center, apparently the Trump administration will just throw cash your way! As the Guardian reported, crisis pregnancy centers received anywhere between $4 million and $10 million from the Paycheck Protection Program.

More, from the Guardian:

The $4m-$10m range was calculated by examining data on PPP loans released by the US Small Business Administration. The SBA did not release exact amounts of loans, but published ranges for loans, for example $150,000 to $350,000. The total calculated is probably an undercount of the amount given to crisis pregnancy centers, since the SBA did not release data on loans under $150,000 and crisis pregnancy centers applied under a variety of industry categories.

The Small Business Administration, the federal agency in charge of administering the program, also gave out millions in loans to Planned Parenthood affiliates—which the agency then promptly demanded back after Republicans in Congress raised an outcry.

But it’s unlikely that a similar outcry will occur over the millions distributed to crisis pregnancy centers, given how tightly the Trump administration is bound up with the religious right. Case in point—one of the crisis pregnancy centers that received PPP loans is part of the Obria clinic network, a California-based chain of poorly run anti-abortion clinics whose founder has branded Obria as a God-fearing, abortion-hating alternative to Planned Parenthood. According to the Guardian, the Obria clinic in San Jose, California, received up to $350,000 through the Paycheck Protection program. In addition to the PPP loan, Obria has managed to secure millions in federal funding through the Title X family planning program, despite not offering condoms or contraception at their clinics. As Jezebel’s Molly Osberg wrote, “Like other crisis pregnancy centers, Obria’s true aim is to attract women looking for an abortion, and make the choice for them.”

And as it turns out, Obria’s founder Kathleen Eaton Bravo, in addition to being a regular old religious anti-abortion extremist, has more than a whiff of white nationalism about her. Again, via the Guardian:

In a 2015 interview with the Catholic World Report, Bravo said abortion “threatens our culture’s survival”. She continued: “Take the example of Europe. When its nations accepted contraception and abortion, they stopped replacing their population. Christianity began to die out. And, with Europeans having no children, immigrant Muslims came in to replace them.”
The “white replacement theory” Bravo espoused is a common argument among white supremacists.

As the Guardian noted, anti-abortion groups saw the Paycheck Protection Program as an opportunity for a cash grab, and their advocacy “paints a picture of a rush for cash among such organizations that the largest anti-abortion organizations promoted.”

As Tony Gruber of the anti-abortion group Heartbeat International wrote in early April to promote a webinar on the Paycheck Protection Program, “Experts believe this program will be more popular than toilet paper, so act fast!”

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