Raleigh City Council member Kay Crowder, who last week pushed her colleagues to give $30,000 to a faith-based health clinic with ties to an anti-abortion organization and a pro-LGBTQ-conversion church, now says she wants to rescind the grant.
“It is clear that not using the normal grant application process has resulted in a lot of confusion for the community and the city council,” Crowder wrote in a statement posted to her Facebook page Tuesday. “I truly regret that this has occurred and will join fellow city council members in rescinding the grant to the NeighborHealth Center. I want the community to know that I take their concerns and need for more information seriously.”
The council voted unanimously to fund the clinic last week. The item was not originally on the agenda, but Crowder proposed funding the clinic because it provides much-needed healthcare to an underserved portion of the city. The nonprofit had missed the city’s deadline for grant applications, so Crowder proposed awarding it money left over in the city’s contingency fund.
NeighborHealth started last year as a nonprofit health clinic in Northwest Raleigh, where it offers services to low-income residents on a sliding fee scale. So far, it has seen seventeen hundred patients, about 70 percent of whom do not have insurance. Reproductive health care makes up about 10 percent of the services at the clinic, according to CEO Sue Ellen Thompson.
While the clinic provides information on abortion, Doug Briggs, the clinic’s head physician, opposes abortion and says he encourages pregnant women to bring their pregnancies to term.
As the INDY first reported last week, the clinic’s website lists as partners Gateway Pregnancy Center, an anti-abortion nonprofit in Raleigh that warns women about the “spiritual” consequences of abortion, and Church of the Apostles, a Raleigh ministry that promotes LGBTQ conversion therapy.
Thompson says NeighborHealth does not support conversion therapy, a controversial practice that is banned for minors and several states and that the American Psychiatric Association says poses “a significant risk of harm” to those who undergo it.
Council members only became aware of the clinic’s affiliations after they voted to give it money. Crowder said last week that she sought the funding because the clinic serves “the most marginalized in our community—for example, refugees who are not eligible for government-based health care programs.”
But after learning the clinic’s ties to Church of the Apostles, Crowder changed her mind.
“To be clear, I completely oppose conversion therapy,” Crowder wrote on Facebook. “I extend my apologies to all involved, my only motivation for voting for a one-time allocation to this organization was to improve the lives of those with the least means and greatest needs.”
Contact staff writer Leigh Tauss at email@example.com.
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