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WTF Texas?! Anti-choice group tasked with providing healthcare

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August 29, 2016

At the beginning of August, I was alarmed to read that the State of Texas had awarded a little over $1.6 million to an anti-choice extremist group (surprise!). Anti-choice proponent, Carol Everett, heads the Heidi Group, a group that does not provide healthcare services, but does support anti-choice clinics and agendas. This award came from a large pool of money that the state has allocated to fund the Healthy Texas Women Program, Texas’ version of Medicaid. The program is intended to provide Texans aged 15-44 with comprehensive whole health check-ups, contraceptives, and diabetes and cholesterol treatment and monitoring. Cool beans, got it, everything makes some type of sense now; Texas is working with healthcare providers across the state to ensure Texans have quality health care. Great! …Except for the small matter of this $1.6 million awarded to an anti-choice extremist group…that does not provide healthcare. WTF Texas?

And it gets worse. Let us, for a moment, examine all of the ways in which The Heidi Group is especially dangerous and unhelpful.

We can learn plenty about the group by examining its Director, a Ms. Carol Everett. The Austin Chronicle reports that she was once a legitimate abortion clinic staffer, but now supports anti-choice agendas. Her group’s website is concerning-ly vague, encouraging low-income Texans to call for information on healthcare options and includes, what looks to be, a list of every Crisis Pregnancy Center in the state of Texas. (More on that later.) In this youtube video, Carol Everett describes pregnant people seeking healthcare as “emotional,” “confused,” “hormones…raging,” and describes how this flurry of emotion makes individuals facing an unintended pregnancy particularly easy to persuade. It’s sickening. She casts pregnant people as vulnerable victims who can be taken advantage of –not as empowered, competent persons seeking information and care. At one point in the interview, she asserts, “Abortion clinics are not safe for a woman who is really searching for the right choice.” I’m guessing Ms. Everett thinks she knows what the “right” choice is and that she wants to use some of the $1.6 million The Heidi Group was just awarded to convince other people of her righteousness.

Which brings me to the next catastrophe to come from this grant award –Ms. Everett has reported to several Texas news outlets that a considerable amount of the grant will be distributed by her group (which, again, is not even a healthcare provider) to Crisis Pregnancy Centers, or CPCs. CPCs are often funded by religious organizations, and are notorious for shaming and terrorizing individuals who visit them, but not for providing healthcare services. In fact, investigations have discovered CPCs can masquerade as health clinics, but don’t employ any actual medical personnel. CPCs operate as propaganda-fueled “counseling” centers –luring young people seeking legitimate medical care regarding a pregnancy into their offices and then bombarding them with false medical information about abortions and pregnancy.

But of course, this is Texas, so the story gets bigger and better. Carol Everett, leader of the Heidi Group and apparent knower-of-right-choices for all people, also currently serves on the Health and Human Services Commission’s Women’s Advisory Committee. This committee is tasked with advising the Health and Human Services Commission on state reproductive healthcare programs. One Texas organization, Progress Texas, has been so incensed by this information that they have created an online petition urging the Texas Health Commissioner to revoke the $1.6 million award and remove Carol Everett from her position on the Women’s Advisory Committee. I consider myself among those incensed by this information, and until such time as things start to make some sense: WTF Texas?

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