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For over a year, Turning Point USA (TPUSA) co-founder and CEO Charlie Kirk has held his monthly “Freedom Night” sermons at the Phoenix-area Dream City Church. Kirk and the political megachurch, led by Pastor Luke Barnett, have a close relationship. Previously, Dream City and TPUSA’s Students for Trump organized a 2020 rally for Donald Trump at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic (then lied about how well their air filtration systems killed the virus). More recently, Kirk and Barnett started a TPUSA-branded K-12 school curriculum “Turning Point Academy.” While opening last September’s Freedom Night, Kirk announced Turning Point and Dream City were also teaming up with a local crisis pregnancy center, “Choices.”
NO CHOICES AT CHOICES
Opened in 1983, Choices Pregnancy Center of Greater Phoenix is one of the many anti-abortion, religious-based nonprofits posing as a legitimate health clinic. Abortion Access Front’s database of fake clinics lists 45 crisis pregnancy centers throughout Arizona. Choices has three current locations in Phoenix, Glendale and Mesa.
In a September 2022 video and blog post, Choices announced their recent partnership with Dream City Church has made it possible for them to open an upcoming fourth location.
“This fourth clinic was not in our original budget this year. However, our partnership with Dream City church through the Choices ‘Bridges’ program has allowed us to make this happen,” Choices president and CEO Marc Burmich said.
The “Bridges” program involves “shared DNA churches” partnered with Choices. Shared DNA churches are vetted for “biblically sound doctrine,” meaning churches who share the same passion for anti-choice evangelicalism. According to their own website, the program is “designed to take Choices clients who desire to start life following Christ and integrate them, as quickly as possible, into what we call Shared DNA Churches.” Dream City Church is a shared DNA church with Choices of Greater Phoenix.
“We want to work closely at Choices with churches and Dream City is the perfect partner because we need to get them in Christ-centered communities while we give them access to healthcare,” said Choices Chief Advancement Officer Josh Chumley at a Dream City Church panel.
Otherwise, Choices’ services are extremely limited as their main mission is to dissuade people from having an abortion. Crisis pregnancy centers’ tactics often rely on outright disinformation and fear mongering to achieve their goals. Choices’ website information on “Abortion Information and Post Abortion Care” is carefully crafted–only listing potential risks of abortion healthcare and failing to mention that abortion is one of the safest medical procedures.
Fake clinics disguise themselves to appear as legitimate healthcare. The promise of “free” pregnancy tests often lures unsuspecting people into crisis pregnancy centers. Choices also offers other “free” resources for newborns but parents must collect “Baby Bucks” to gain access. “Baby Bucks” are earned by attending Choices-approved parenting courses. People expecting legitimate healthcare and assistance are instead bombarded with anti-choice propaganda and attempted church recruitment.
Anti-abortion centers are not held to medical privacy standards and lack regulation. A whistleblower exposed their Kentucky-area fake clinic for failing to properly sanitize equipment, including transvaginal ultrasound devices. Crisis pregnancy centers, including Choices, were also found to be collecting the data of those who use their services.
Choices’ online resources on “Relationship and Sexual Health” are also severely limited. No information on birth control or emergency contraceptives. Nothing about understanding sexual orientation, gender identity, or consent. In a short section on “safe sex,” Choices states that safe sex outside of a “healthy marriage” doesn’t exist. Choices takes it a step further by claiming “people are healthier and happier when sex is practiced inside a traditional marriage.”
Choices is also openly and explicitly transphobic, dedicating a page to “How Abortion and the Transgender Movement Are Connected.” Their blog post makes clear that Choices is equally repulsed by transgender people as they are with the pro-choice movement:
“Transgenderism is intimately tied to the practice of abortion. They are both attempts to deny and destroy what it means to be a woman and to be human. It is not just tragic and sad, it is a truly evil thing for our world,” the Choices website reads.
The fake clinic continues on to describe “transgenderism” as “the erasure of women.” Choices complains that abortion access and “transgenderism” both fail to protect women as “treasured souls who possess the priceless gift of bringing forth new life.” Choices goes on to deny the existence of transgender people, referring to them as “victims of the transgender culture.”
In addition to the bigotry, Choices concerningly advertises so-called “abortion pill reversal.”
In a typical medical abortion, patients receive two separate medications, mifepristone and misoprostol, in the termination process. The method, commonly referred to as “the abortion pill,” is used in over half of all abortion in the United States. In a post-Roe era, abortion pills by mail have become a necessary resource. Medical abortion is highly effective and complications are incredibly rare, making self-managed abortion more safe and accessible.
In contrast, anti-abortion activists propose using a potentially dangerous method unfounded in science and medicine to reverse the abortion pill. LCRW won’t describe the nature of the procedure here but here’s what experts say about it.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says abortion pill reversal is “not based on science and do not meet clinical standards,” calling the method “unproven” and “unethical.” The National Library of Medicine describes pill reversal as “non-evidence based.” Researchers at the University of California, Davis halted their trials on abortion pill reversal due to safety concerns, calling the process “dangerous” and “experimental.”
Choices partners with the “Abortion Pill Reversal Hotline” to dispense their snake oil. The hotline is owned and operated by Heartbeat International, the biggest crisis pregnancy center network in the world.
“The fake service that they call reversal is extremely dangerous. People are not receiving safe medical treatment — they are being experimented on,” Abortion Access Front programs director Max Cawile explained to AZRWW. “The anti-abortion extremists of Heartbeat International do not care if people are harmed by the so-called reversal process or if it works.”
Crisis pregnancy centers already outnumber abortion clinics 3 to 1 and the gap is expected to increase as more clinics shut down in post-Roe America. Cawile warned the reversal scam will likely become more common as fake clinic operations and outreach continues to grow.
At Turning Point USA megaconference, AmericaFest, Choices promoted the dangerous abortion pill reversal on their list of services. Choices tabled all four days of the TPUSA convention, distributing their propaganda and signing up new volunteers.
CHOICES, TPUSA, AND ALLIANCE DEFENDING FREEDOM
On September 7 at the Dream City Church Phoenix campus, Charlie Kirk opened his speech praising Choices Pregnancy Center:
“It is on us as Christians and believers to make sure that every single woman that is pregnant in Arizona has options that are not Planned Parenthood. That are not these abortion clinics. And Choices is doing such a wonderful job. So we’re going to support them in any way we possibly can and we’re so honored to be partnered with you guys.”
On November 16, Choices updated their website to announce their official partnership with Turning Point Faith, the religious arm of TPUSA. The fake clinic also provides information on how to join Turning Point Faith.
This isn’t Turning Point Faith’s only connection to anti-abortion extremists in Arizona. Only a month before the Choices-TPUSA partnership, an official with Turning Point Faith represented the conservative youth nonprofit at a pastor conference organized by Jeff Durbin. Durbin is an influential anti-abortion pastor who advocates for doctors and patients to be executed if they perform/receive an abortion.
In an Instagram announcement, Choices’ CAO Josh Chumley further confirmed their partnership with Turning Point Faith:
“We are coming together for bold faith,” said Chumley. “We are providing options that are based on biblical values to show Christ’s love and truth in a culture that tells us abortion is alright. It’s not alright.”
Chumley previously served as a director for anti-LGBTQ, anti-choice hate group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). The Scottsdale-based ADF is a legal advocacy nonprofit group that works to criminalize abortion, birth control, and LGBTQ+ existence.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ADF “has supported the recriminalization of sexual acts between consenting LGBTQ adults in the U.S. and criminalization abroad; has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad; has contended that LGBTQ people are more likely to engage in pedophilia; and claims that a ‘homosexual agenda’ will destroy Christianity and society.”
Over the years, the ADF has also fought to break down the separation of church and state and promote Christian supremacy. In 2022, the legal group began representing a Tennessee adoption agency who refused to adopt to Jewish people. The ADF infamously represented Jack Philips in the Masterpiece Cakes case and helped challenge employer-funded birth control health plans. ADF was also one of the key anti-abortion teams responsible for the legal challenges that lead to Roe’s overturning. More recently, the far-right legal behemoth has moved onto their newest target: abortion pills.
The intersection between ADF and Choices of Greater Phoenix goes much further than Chumley. Choices’ board of directors features two representatives for ADF, Kevin Theriot and Lorné McCutcheon. Theriot serves as a senior director for ADF, while McCutcheon works as a marketing director. Choices’ board secretary, Cindy Eville also works as a paralegal assistant for ADF. The medical director featured on Choices’ website, Dr. Eric Hazelrigg, was also the local physician represented by ADF in a legal challenge to Arizona’s abortion laws.
“There is no reason to assume an anti-abortion center would be friendly towards LGBTQ folks ever,” said Abortion Access Front’s Max Cawile. “They are religious-based organizations and feel free to spread their propaganda and hate wherever they want.”
Cawile was unsurprised by Choices’ open prejudice as these networks of bigotry regularly intersect with one another. In her experience, Cawile has also received complaints of rampant homophobia at these fake clinics.
“The anti-abortion movement, the homophobic movement, and the transphobic movement are all intertwined together and working for the same goals,” she said. “None of this is about their values, but about power, control, and keeping people oppressed.”