America is facing a diaper crisis, and the anti-abortion movement may not be helping

Many families in the US lack access to essential supplies for their baby’s well-being, such as clothing, food, and diapers.

The coronavirus pandemic has played a significant role in this crisis, and as households seek help from nonprofits, anti-abortion centers (AACs) may be misrepresenting the scope of their services.

In 2019, Heartbeat International, an AAC giant, claimed to have provided free baby supplies to 1.85 million people, including more than 2 million sets of baby clothes, more than 19,000 strollers, and more than 1.2 million of diaper packs. However, data from Equity Forward, an accountability organization that produces research related to gender equity and sexual and reproductive health, found inconsistencies with those numbers.

“Instead of providing direct material support to people, they are using this overhead money to pay staff salaries, to engage with SEO marketers, to expand their reach to promote themselves and all sorts of other things. that they’re not serving people in need,” Ashley Underwood, director of Equity Forward, told Yahoo Finance. “They only exist to discourage people from obtaining abortion services.”

A display of Pampers diapers for sale in Denver on February 16, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

According to Equity Forward findings, Heartbeat International only provided a stroller for 1% of customers, a car seat for 1.6% of customers, and less than one pack of diapers per person.

Heartbeat International did not respond to Yahoo Finance’s request for comment.

need for diapers

Heartbeat International is an interdenominational Christian organization that claims to serve approximately 2,850 nonprofit pregnancy help centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies in more than 65 countries, including 1,722 in the United States. This makes them the largest pregnancy center affiliate network in the world.

However, Underwood argued that the organization, along with other AACs, is doing more harm than good.

People stand outside the Planned Parenthood Manhattan Health Center in New York City, U.S., August 6, 2022. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

People stand outside the Planned Parenthood Manhattan Health Center in New York City, U.S., August 6, 2022. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

“Since June, when the Dobbs decision was published, we’ve definitely seen an uptick in anti-abortion center rhetoric,” Underwood said. “They’re in the perfect position to help people, but they’ve been around for decades before that decision, and we’ve seen that they don’t use this money to help people. Much of the money, specifically public tax dollars that they receive, is directed at furthering their own endeavors, not at the service of the communities in which they exist.”

Roughly a third of American families can’t afford the diapers needed to keep their babies dry and clean, according to the National Diaper Network, which is part of a public health issue known as “diapering.” Oftentimes, the need for diapers can lead to a variety of problems for both baby and caregiver, affecting not only physical health but mental and financial health as well.

“When caregivers don’t have enough diapers to keep a baby clean, dry and healthy, they are often forced to keep their babies in dirty diapers longer than they should or toss out and dry used diapers so that can be reused,” Bridget Cutler, founder and co-CEO of Moms Helping Moms, told Yahoo Finance. “As a result, infants and young children are at risk for skin infections, open sores, urinary tract infections, and other conditions that may require medical attention.”

Two-year-old Estefania Chacon watches as her mother collects free diapers provided by the Chelsea Collaborative, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Chelsea, Massachusetts, U.S., November 25, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Two-year-old Estefanía Chacón watches as her mother collects free diapers provided by the Chelsea Collaborative. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

Also, almost all child care providers require parents to provide a daily supply of disposable diapers to drop off for their children each day, Cutler explained. If parents don’t provide diapers, they can’t go to work or school. Parents struggling with diapers should “report missing an average of four days of work or school per month,” according to National Diaper Network Executive Director Joanne Samuels Goldblum.

Additionally, households experiencing the need for diapers reported higher levels of stress.

“Research has shown that mothers who cannot provide enough diapers for their children are more likely to suffer from depression,” Cutler said. “Being a parent is hard enough without having to constantly stress about meeting your child’s basic needs.”

‘Funding these propaganda machines’

Currently, government programs that provide assistance to families in need of diapers are severely limited.

Households cannot use WIC (Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children) or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), both federal programs used to provide nutritious food to low-income households. to buy diapers.

TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is a federal program with benefits that can be used to buy diapers. However, Cutler said these funds are inadequate because only 23% of families living below the federal poverty level receive cash assistance through TANF.

A separate Equity Forward report found that at least 10 states have diverted or are currently diverting TANF dollars from families in need to Alternatives to Abortion (A2A) programs. These programs are state funded and created with the intention of reducing abortions and improving pregnancy outcomes.

FY2020 program budget for the New Life Center of Elizabeth, a grant recipient in the Ohio Alternative to Abortion Program (Source: Equity Forward)

FY2020 program budget for Elizabeth’s New Life Center, a grant recipient in the Ohio Alternative to Abortion Program (Source: Equity Forward)

Ohio AAC program public records obtained by Equity Forward revealed that grant recipients used the majority of TANF funds for marketing and overhead costs.

In fact, two Ohio programs, a diaper bank and an abortion center, each received $50,000 in federal public dollars. The Columbus Diaper Bank allocated $30,000 for supplies, while the anti-abortion center Elizabeth New Life Center spent just $2,650.

“It’s very concerning that a pool of funds like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families doesn’t go directly to families in need,” Underwood said. “He’s going to fund these propaganda machines. That’s the best way to describe these anti-abortion centers.”

Underwood stressed that there needs to be a proper system in place that supports both parents and people who are currently pregnant.

“Instead of funneling money into these programs that have been more propaganda than services, we really need to take a closer look at how we can create an infrastructure that supports parenting and supports pregnant people, and supports people so that they can have reproductive capacity. decisions that are best for them,” she said. “We just don’t have that.”

Sandra is an editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @srsalathe

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