‘Preconceived’ Documentary Uncovers the Reality Behind Anti-Abortion Crisis Pregnancy Centers

“The U.S. is a pluralistic society, and the religious preconceptions of a minority should not be imposed on a larger population who have myriad, valid reasons to choose their own pregnancy outcomes,” said film producer Heather Keane.
"Preconceived" will premiere at the South by Southwest Film & TV Festival on March 9.

Preconceived, a landmark documentary that will world premiere as a Documentary Spotlight at the South by Southwest Film & TV Festival in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, follows the footsteps of two women who unknowingly step into the world of anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers (CPC) that attempt to meddle into the decision-making process of women with unexpected pregnancies.

Referred to as ‘fake clinics’ and accused of dispensing deceitful and fraudulent information, CPCs offer one outcome, childbirth.

“Preconceived looks at this complex topic from multiple angles and includes the voices of leaders in the CPC movement, women who unintentionally visited anti-abortion centers, and experts who caution why many CPC practices are problematic,” said co-director Sabrine Keane.

“It feels particularly poignant to have this conversation in Texas, where the same Legislature enforcing abortion restrictions that lead to life-threatening injuries and torment also pour millions of dollars into the billion-dollar anti-abortion CPC industry, then present it as a sort of consolation prize for all the injuries and torment,” said Tara Murtha, Director of Strategic Communications for Women’s Law Project and co-author of Designed to Deceive: A Study of the Crisis Pregnancy Center Industry in Nine States. “That’s how it’s going in many states now, but it’s so horrifically clear in Texas.”

Murtha, who will attend the premier in Austin, is also featured in the film and will participate in post-screening Q&As and a panel called Crisis Pregnancy Centers: Anti-Abortion Movement Ground Game with filmmakers and participants.

READ: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick Is A Loyal Soldier in the Crusade to End Reproductive Freedom and Ban Abortion

Film producer Heather Keane describes the film as more than the role of CPCs. “The U.S. is a pluralistic society, and the religious preconceptions of a minority should not be imposed on a larger population who have myriad, valid reasons to choose their own pregnancy outcomes.”

Pennsylvania taxpayers had been funding CPC for decades.

The Shapiro administration previously announced in August that funding for Real Alternatives, and their network of crisis pregnancy centers, would end on December 31.

READ: Progress: ‘Real Alternatives’ Crisis Pregnancy Center Network Cut Off From Taxpayer Funding

“For decades, taxpayer dollars have gone to fund Real Alternatives,” Governor Josh Shapiro said. “My Administration will not continue that pattern – we will ensure women in this Commonwealth receive the reproductive health care they deserve.”

Shapiro fulfilled that commitment.

In 2017, former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale accused Real Alternatives of “illegal and secretive skimming of public tax dollars.” In 2020, the Campaign for Accountability called on Pennsylvania officials to terminate Real Alternatives’ contract, filing a 27-page public complaint that detailed serious allegations of misusing public funds.Selected as a top SXSW documentary pick by Austin-American Statesman, the premiere of Preconceived will take place at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 9, at the ZACH Theatre and will be followed by a panel discussion featuring film participants and advocates.

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Jenny Stephens

Jenny Stephens is a freelance journalist who has written for a variety of publications, including The Reporter. An avid collector of all things vintage, she resides in the Philadelphia area.

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