What is Obria?
In 2014, The Obria Group, a California-based nonprofit organization affiliated with Obria Medical Clinics, (collectively “Obria”) began organizing a national network of pregnancy clinics that oppose abortion without exception. Obria – a religious ministry masquerading as a healthcare group – also refuses to provide contraceptive choices to its patients, including oral contraceptives, IUDs, or condoms. Instead, Obria offers only “fertility awareness,” a method to track ovulation to prevent pregnancy.
The anti-choice community has been positioning Obria as the national alternative to Planned Parenthood. In 2018, Obria applied for Title X funding, but the application was rejected because Obria did not comply with Title X rules requiring providers to offer hormonal birth control. In 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) awarded $1.7 million in Title X funding to the Obria Group for the current year, with an additional $1.7 million for each of the grant’s subsequent two years.
Report: Trolling for Title X Funds
On May 13, 2019, CfA released a new report, Trolling for Title X Funds, which documents the growth and deception of Obria. CfA’s report provides a comprehensive history of Obria and reveals how the group has transformed from a single crisis pregnancy center in California to a national umbrella organization seeking to wrest Title X Funds away from legitimate healthcare providers.
Holding Obria Accountable
CfA has taken several steps to investigate the Trump administration’s relationship with Obria. On March 6, 2019, CfA filed two Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) lawsuits against HHS seeking records regarding the Trump Administration’s efforts to roll back Title X funding for comprehensive family planning services. CfA requested Obria’s applications for Title V and Title X funds, communications between HHS and Obria, and the calendars and communications for Diane Foley, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Population Affairs.
On March 21, 2019, CfA sent a letter to officials at HHS calling on the agency to review the error-riddled Title X application submitted by the Obria Group. The Houston Chronicle reported on March 18, 2019 that Obria organized a Title X grant application submitted in conjunction with the Heidi Group and two additional Texas-based medical clinics, Midland Community Healthcare Services, and the Community Wellness Clinic of Conroe. Reportedly, the application drastically overstates the number of patients served by the Heidi Group, identifies a long-departed employee as the Heidi Group’s top quality assurance officer, and fails to disclose the Heidi Group’s terminated state contracts.
On April 17, 2019, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and the chairwomen of two subcommittees, sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar demanding documents regarding the agency’s decision to award $1.7 million in Title X family planning funds to Obria. The letter cites a New York Times article based largely on CfA’s investigation of Obria. The letter demands that HHS produce all communications between HHS officials and the Obria Group and demands that HHS release the Obria Group’s Title X applications.
In The News
- Anti-Birth Control Group Reportedly Lied To Get Government Funding (Refinery29)
- Obria’s Abortion Fake-Out Is Working (Jezebel)
- An Anti-Choice Group Pledged It Would ‘Never’ Provide Contraception as It Pursued Title X Funds (Rewire.News)
- Campaign aims to halt funding to anti-contraception group (Politico Pulse)
- Google has given $150,000 in free ads to deceptive anti-abortion group (The Guardian)
- Anti-abortion clinics caught in tumult over Trump family planning rules (Politico)
- Trump Chooses No Choice (The New York Times)
- $5.1 Million in Federal Funding Will Really Help This Catholic Clinic Reach ‘Abortion-Vulnerable Women’ (Jezebel)
- Trump Administration Gives Family Planning Grant to Anti-Abortion Group (The New York Times)