On Monday, the Senate Finance Committee approved a measure that would provide tax benefits of up to 5 million dollars for donations to crisis pregnancy centres working against abortion.
The bill by state Sen. Beth Mizell (R-Franklinton) mirrors a law already passed in Mississippi — and it would incentivize donations to crisis pregnancy centers, which under the bill would be renamed “maternal wellness centers.”
Mizell has said the bill is necessary to address Louisiana’s poor maternal health outcomes; the state has among the worst maternal and infant mortality rates in the U.S. She said the centers put pregnant people “on the path to good prenatal care, and actually postpartum care.”
Many of these centers provide free services such as non-diagnostic ultrasonography, parenting classes, and baby clothing. Some clinics refer patients to OB/GYN services. These clinics are controversial, but they also exist.
They’re typically run by Christian organizations, and they exist in part to dissuade people from getting abortions. Many of these groups spread false information about abortion and birth control. Some also promote the medically unproven and potentially dangerous practice of “Abortion reversal.”
Crisis pregnancy centers are already eligible for welfare funding through Louisiana’s Alternatives to Abortion Initiative. Lift Louisiana, an abortion-rights legal and lobbying group that opposes Mizell’s bill, found in a 2022 report that the state had given over Grants of $11 Million Since 2011, there have been crisis pregnancy centers.
During a hearing in a separate Senate committee, supporters of the bill said it would meet the “growing need” for pregnancy help in the wake of Louisiana’s near-total abortion ban. Prior to the ban, Louisiana’s three abortion clinics performed around 8,000 to 9,000 abortions a year.
The bill does NOT require crisis pregnancy centers provide prenatal or Medicaid care or WIC enrollment. They would be required to refer people to those services as well as adoption. This bill also aims to standardize service at these centers by requiring that they provide prenatal care classes, infant care classes, breastfeeding classes, parenting classes, and pregnancy testing administered by registered nurses.
The tax credits are expected to begin in 2025. To qualify, centers must be registered as nonprofits under 501(c). The centers would also need to be affiliated with Heartbeat International, Care Net or the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates — all national Christian anti-abortion organizations that have long supported crisis pregnancy centers.
The tax credit is not available to any organization that supports abortion rights or has a connection with abortion clinics, refers women for abortions, or advocates abortion.
Louisianans will receive a tax deduction equal to 5% their donation to crisis pregnancy centers, up to $5,000. The money will be divided among dozens of crisis pregnancies centers throughout the state.
Louisiana Department of Health must also produce a listing of centers that qualify for the tax credit. The Health Department is already required by law to provide links to Louisiana’s crisis pregnancy centers.
But the health department wouldn’t actually oversee the services offered by the centers — which aren’t medical clinics. Neither would any other agency.
“The Department of Health, to be perfectly candid on it, it got a little fuzzy on what their role would be,” Mizell said during a previous Finance committee hearing. “They really didn’t want to oversee the centers, and the centers frankly don’t want to be overseen.”
The government also has minimal oversight of crisis pregnancy centers receiving welfare funds.
The bill now moves to the Senate floor, though a date hasn’t been set for when lawmakers will discuss it.
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