Obria

Obria, formerly known as Birth Choice, is a conglomerate of anti-abortion centers that touts its services as “women’s health” and received Title X family planning funds in 2019. In practice, however, Obria does not provide any form of birth control, spouts anti-abortion views and continues to provide medically unproven, dangerous procedures.


Summary Extremism Key Players Influence Related Orgs

Summary

In 2019, Obria was the first anti-abortion center the Trump administration granted federal birth control program dollars in its effort to steer funding away from established providers. Despite not offering hormonal birth control, Obria is an expanding network that hopes to replace Planned Parenthood nationwide.

Until recently, Obria advertised itself as a conglomerate of anti-abortion centers called “Birth Choice.” In a successful attempt to attract more business and garner Title X family planning funds, the organization rebranded: its centers now offer prenatal care, ultrasounds and STI/STD testing and treatment under the façade of “women’s health.” But Obria’s ethos remains unchanged — it does not provide any form of hormonal birth control like the Pill, spouts anti-abortion misinformation and continues to provide medically unproven, dangerous procedures. Its National Advisory Board is essentially a who’s who of the anti-abortion movement, composed of extremists including Marjorie Dannenfelser of Susan B. Anthony List, Lila Rose of Live Action, and discredited propagandist David Daleiden.

Obria’s extremist views and reliance on discredited science are even more alarming in light of the group becoming the first anti-abortion organization to successfully obtain Title X family planning funds in 2019. Obria’s California clinics will receive a total of $5.1 million in Title X grants from HHS from 2019 to 2022. In its Title X grant application, the group promised to provide a “broad range” of contraceptive options — while simultaneously assuring supporters it would never provide birth control. A criticism from other anti-abortion activists who hold disproportionate influence over the Trump administration, Obria’s website states it will use its Title X funds to push “natural family planning” instead. In the same grant cycle that Obria received its grant, the health department cut funding from five Planned Parenthoods across the country. Emboldened by its navigation of HHS, Obria is now pushing its affiliate expansion plan nationwide.

Extremism

Obria CEO Kathleen Eaton Bravo advertised her organization’s use of an unproven medical procedure as “a much better opportunity to save lives.”

“Many pro-life physicians and pro-life health centers across the country have now made abortion-pill reversal a treatment option to women. Kathleen Eaton Bravo, founder of the Obria Medical Clinics and president of the Obria Foundation, told the National Catholic Register that Obria provides the progesterone treatment to women who request it. She said that as Obria’s telemedicine platform expands in more states, it will provide another mechanism for women searching for help after taking the first abortion pill. ‘We have a much better opportunity to save lives this way,’ she said.” [Catholic News Agency, 8/15/17]

  • So-called “abortion reversal” is an “unproven procedure” that lacks “research on the safety and efficacy of the treatment.”

“States that require pregnant patients be informed about abortion reversal are advocating for unproven procedures with a lack of evidence behind them, researchers argued. Four states — Arkansas, Idaho, South Dakota, and Utah — currently require providers to give patients information about treatment to reverse a medication abortion, a “troubling” trend due to the lack of research on the safety and efficacy of the treatment, wrote Daniel Grossman, MD, of the University of California San Francisco, and Kari White, PhD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.” [MedPage Today, 10/17/18]

Close This Read More

After Obria obtained Title X family planning funds in 2019, CEO Kathleen Eaton Bravo said its goal was to never have a woman “darken the door of a Planned Parenthood again.”

“‘Our goal is to basically say we’re going to build a model of comprehensive, holistic medical clinics so that a woman [facing an unplanned pregnancy] never has to darken the door of a Planned Parenthood again,’ Bravo told The Daily Signal in an interview Tuesday.” [The Daily Signal, 3/29/19]

Close This Read More

Kathleen Eaton Bravo claimed that young women don’t want to take birth control.

“Young women, she said, ‘don’t want to live every day having to take a carcinogen,’ referring to hormonal contraception.” [Kaiser Health News, 9/28/18]

Close This Read More

Key Players

Founder & CEO

Kathleen Eaton Bravo

Kathleen Eaton Bravo is the founder and CEO of Obria Medical Clinics and The Obria Group, Inc. She considers herself a “businesswoman with a mission to save women and children from abortion.” Bravo rebranded Obria to add some medical services — notably not including hormonal birth control or abortion — as part of a plan to obtain Title X funds. She remarked: “I didn’t recreate the wheel… I’m using Planned Parenthood’s model, and it’s working.”

Close This Read More

Board Member

Marjorie Dannenfelser

Marjorie Dannenfelser is a member of the Obria Group’s National Advisory Board. Dannenfelser is also the president and founder of the anti-abortion, extremist Susan B. Anthony List. Dannenfelser has stated that “rape exceptions” to abortion bans are “abominable” and “intellectually dishonest” and seeks to ban all abortions.. Dannenfelser also served as the head of Donald Trump’s “Pro-Life Coalition” during the 2016 campaign and has close ties to the Trump White House. Dannenfelser has recently been lobbying Senators on the so-called “Born Alive Abortion Survivor Protection Act.”

Close This Read More

Board Member

Charles “Chuck” Donovan

Charles “Chuck” Donovan is a member of the Obria Group’s National Advisory Board. He is also the President of the anti-abortion Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI). He is an anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ extremist with an extensive history of affiliating with right-wing organizations like the Family Research Council, which was labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He was formerly a research fellow at the extremist Heritage Foundation. He has falsely claimed that cutting Planned Parenthood funding “will benefit American women and their children”; he has also claimed on behalf of survivors of sexual assault that rape is rarely a reason why women seek abortions later in pregnancy. Donovan has said proponents of the Defense of Marriage Act were incorrectly labeled irrational bigots. The CLI president has also claimed that gay marriage would weaken civil society and the freedom it guarantees.

Close This Read More

Board Member

David Daleiden

David Daleiden is a member of Obria Group’s National Advisory Board. Daleiden is an anti-choice extremist who was charged with 15 felonies for covertly recording women at Planned Parenthood clinics and releasing highly edited, misleading footage.

Close This Read More

Influence

Obria was the first direct beneficiary of HHS’ sustained efforts to make it easier for anti-abortion groups to receive Title X family planning funds.

Former Title X advisor Valerie Huber admitted in court documents that HHS wanted to release previous Title X grantees’ successful applications to make it easier for new applicants to get accepted for grants.

HHS Advisor Valerie Huber admitted that HHS wanted to publicly release current Title X grant applications to make it easier for first-time applicants to understand the application.

Posting portions of successful applications from State and non-profit entities is necessary to attract the interest of grantees that we believe may offer innovative strategies in the family planning services area, but who may be inexperienced with the federal grants process. Posting the successful applications is intended to increase the number of applications – specifically, to encourage less experienced applicants to apply by providing them examples of the sorts of detailed descriptions that federal grant applicants are expected to provide about their own organizations, processes and other application elements. Without such examples, new applicants may refrain from applying due to concerns that the application process is too complicated and as a result, that they will be unable to develop thorough and quality proposals that meet the expectation of federal grant evaluators. As is true with completing any document for the first time, having access to a quality example aids in the accurate completion of the document. This is especially true for the Title X application, a particularly complicated undertaking for a new applicant. In addition, the sort of information that new applicants will look to for purposes of crafting their own detailed proposals is information that is unique to each grantee, and therefore cannot be simply ‘cut and pasted’ from one grant application (i.e., one that is posted) into a new application.” [Valerie Huber Declaration, U.S. District Court for D.C., Case No. 18-cv-2581, 11/28/18]

… And Obria, which was rejected for 2018 Title X funds, quickly picked up on HHS’ cues — even admitting that it was trying to copy Planned Parenthood’s model for its own advantage — and was awarded a 2019 Title X grant. 

In 2018, the anti-abortion chain Obria Group was rejected for Title X funds…

… Then, in August 2018, Obria’s president reached out to HHS anti-abortion Trump appointee Steven Valentine requesting to learn about HHS grants for which the chain could qualify.

… Obria then began to prepare for an opportunity to apply for the Title X grants again, admitting that it was “using Planned Parenthood’s model”…  

Obria CEO on the group’s expansion: “I’m using Planned Parenthood’s model, and it’s working” because “I didn’t recreate the wheel.” 

“‘I didn’t recreate the wheel,’ said Kathleen Eaton Bravo, the CEO of the Obria Group, a nonprofit chain of clinics that’s now expanding beyond the West Coast. The chain has been adding medical services as part of its long-term vision — one that also lets it bill insurers and qualify for government funds. ‘I’m using Planned Parenthood’s model, and it’s working.’” [Politico, 12/14/18]

Obria had reportedly been “adding medical services as part of its long-term vision.”  

“‘I didn’t recreate the wheel,’ said Kathleen Eaton Bravo, the CEO of the Obria Group, a nonprofit chain of clinics that’s now expanding beyond the West Coast, has been adding medical services as part of its long-term vision — one that also lets them bill insurers and qualify for government funds. ‘I’m using Planned Parenthood’s model, and it’s working.’” [Politico, 12/14/18]

Obria rebranded itself away from its extremely religious, vocally anti-abortion image as a business move to more effectively attract young people…

“Calling the Obria clinics a ‘holistic’ and ‘comprehensive’ alternative to Planned Parenthood, the company’s leaders hope that by medicalizing their offerings and softening their message, they will be able to receive that crucial funding and reach more patients… the softening of its message for public consumption, [Obria CEO Kathleen] Bravo hoped, would help the company ‘better connect with young people in crisis within their own psychological framework.’ [Jezebel, 3/26/19]

  • … Despite its rebranding, Obria advertises medically unproven and unethical services.

In its press materials, the company wrote that it was preserving an ‘agenda-free philosophy’ by changing its name. Of course, limiting services is pushing an agenda, as is medicalizing you offerings with the specific intention of putting an abortion provider out of business—as is granting interviews as a pro-life pioneer and offering such unproven treatments as ‘abortion reversal.’” [Jezebel, 3/26/19]

  • Obria CEO Kathleen Bravo advertised her organization’s use of unproven medical procedures as “a much better opportunity to save lives.”

“Many pro-life physicians and pro-life health centers across the country have now made abortion-pill reversal a treatment option to women. Kathleen Eaton Bravo, founder of the Obria Medical Clinics and president of the Obria Foundation, told the National Catholic Register that Obria provides the progesterone treatment to women who request it. She said that as Obria’s telemedicine platform expands in more states, it will provide another mechanism for women searching for help after taking the first abortion pill. ‘We have a much better opportunity to save lives this way,’ she said.” [Catholic News Agency, 8/15/17]

In an attempt to qualify for Title X family planning funds, Obria said it planned to partner with a health center that provides birth control, but not abortion.

The federal government rejected Obria this year for Title X family planning grants because, under the current rules, the Trump administration still requires grantees to include a provider that offers hormonal birth control. Obria plans to reapply, by partnering with a health center that does provide contraception, though not abortion.” [Politico, 12/14/18]

Obria is among a number of “non-traditional” centers to which the Trump administration is catering with its new Title X grant guidelines.

“Originally a more traditional, explicitly religious ‘crisis pregnancy center,’ Obria has rebranded over the last few years in an explicit attempt to replace Planned Parenthood entirely… It is just the type of ‘non-traditional’ clinic the Trump Administration has in mind as it rewrites its Title X funding rules. Three years after Obria’s pivot to neutrality, the Trump administration proposed new rules for Title X funding that encouraged faith-based organizations to apply. Those rules, which are just now being finalized, would prohibit federal funding for centers that refer people to abortion clinics and encourage participation by “non-traditional” organizations. Like, for instance, clinics that offer fertility awareness as the only form of contraception. Obria was denied federal funding last year because the current rules still require providers to offer hormonal birth control, an issue the clinic told Politico it would circumvent by partnering with other providers.” [Jezebel, 3/26/19]

… HHS gave the anti-abortion Obria Group $1.7 million in Title X funds in 2019.

In FY19, the Obria Group for the first time received $1,700,000 in Title X funds for the state of California. [FY 2019 Title X Grant Awards]

Obria will receive a total of $5.1 million in Title X family planning grants over the course of three years.

“Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the Obria Group will receive $5.1 million over the course of three years in Title X Family Planning funding to expand services to low income individuals and families in four California counties. The Obria Group will oversee the work of seven clinic partners including three of its own California affiliates.” [Obria Press Release, 3/29/19]

Other anti-abortion groups have been denied Title X funding due to their refusal to provide birth control — and they’re mad that Obria agreed to do so.

Groups Like Sancta Familia Medical that promote natural family planning did not receive Title X grants.

“Other pro-life medical groups who have recently applied for Title X funding ultimately did not qualify because they would not provide or refer for artificial contraceptives. One Omaha, Nebraska, pro-life health provider, Sancta Familia Medical, initially considered for the Title X grant, was ultimately rejected because it offered only natural family planning and would not partner with groups who dispense artificial contraceptives.” [LifeSite News, 4/18/19]

According to anti-abortion advocate Abby Johnson, in an April 4, 2019 meeting between Obria and HHS, the health department told Obria its Title X-funded clinics had to at least refer for birth control — a move she called “troubling” for Catholic Obria donors…

“‘There was a meeting yesterday between HHS, Kathleen [Eaton Bravo] and the Obria governing board,’ Johnson told LifeSiteNews via email. ‘It was made clear during that meeting that all CA [California] Obria medical clinics are required and will be referring for contraception. That is a requirement under the Title X rules,’ she continued. ‘I knew this to be true, because I helped to administer Title X funds when I worked at Planned Parenthood. Title X is a contraceptive management program. At minimum, a referral for any and all forms of contraception is required.’ Johnson indicated that this news would be troubling for Catholics who fund Obria through private donations.” [LifeSite News, 4/5/19]

Several anti-abortion advocates “have reached out to LifeSite News to voice their dismay” that Obria received Title X funding in California, and therefore compromised on its “natural law stance.”

“Several pro-life medical organizations, including members of the Pro Women’s Healthcare Centers, have reached out to LifeSiteNews to voice their dismay that Obria, which has received funding from the U.S. Catholic bishops as well as Catholic private donors, has succeeded in receiving the Title X grant. They believe that it is impossible to receive Title X funding without compromising on a natural law stance. It is the doctrine of the Catholic Church that using artificial methods to render the marital act sterile is intrinsically evil because it is a direct violation of God’s purpose in creating sexuality.” [LifeSite News, 4/18/19]

  • … This blowback has come in spite of Obria’s vehemently anti-birth control stance.

“‘They are so vehemently anti-birth control,’’ said Alice Huling, a lawyer for Campaign for Accountability, a group that has been in court trying to get access to information on Obria’s programs. Not only does Obria avoid the pill, it also doesn’t provide patients with IUDs or even condoms.” [New York Times, 4/5/19]

Then, in April 2019, Obria denied that it will distribute or refer for birth control…

Obria Founder and CEO said that Obria clinics have never and will not distribute/refer for birth control.

“Obria Group insists that it neither prescribes nor refers for artificial birth control. Kathleen Eaton-Bravo, founder and CEO of the Obria Group, told LifeSiteNews, ‘Obria clinics have never distributed or referred for contraceptives and have no plans to do so.’” [Life Site News, 4/18/19]

… And in May 2019, Politico reported that HHS doesn’t intend to force Obria to distribute contraceptives.

According to Politico, HHS said it “doesn’t intend to force Obria, which is heavily funded by the Catholic Church, to go against its moral principles.”

HHS officials told POLITICO the department doesn’t intend to force Obria, which is heavily funded by the Catholic Church, to go against its moral principles.  ‘The Department has acknowledged that it cannot enforce the current requirement for nondirective abortion counseling and abortion referral with respect to Title X grantees, clinics, or providers that object to providing such services, as a result of certain federal conscience protection statutes,’ a spokesperson said.” [Politico, 5/2/19]

… Also in May 2019, Campaign For Accountability reported that Obria had sent out an email to supporters months ago pledging it would never provide birth control.

Obria CEO Kathleen Eaton Bravo had sent a December 2018 email to supporters pledging Obria is committed to never provide hormonal contraception.

The group’s CEO has explicitly promised its supporters that it would not provide contraception. A month after Politico reported in December 2018 that Obria was applying for Title X grants that involved providing contraception, founder and CEO Kathleen Bravo sent an email to reassure supporters. ‘Obria’s clinic model is committed to never provide hormonal contraception nor abortions! Obria promotes abstinence-based sexual risk avoidance education — the most effective public health model for promoting healthy behaviors,’ Bravo wrote in the January email, according to the Campaign for Accountability report.” [Rewire.News, 5/14/19]

Obria’s website says its clinics will use the federal funds to push “natural family planning” instead. …On Obria Group’s web page about the recent Title X grant from the Trump administration, the organization admits its clinics ‘do not provide contraceptives and do not do abortions.’ The Obria website says its clinics will use the federal funding to push ‘fertility awareness-based methods,’ or what the group calls ‘natural family planning.’” [Rewire.News, 5/14/19]

And in May 2019, Obria filed a lawsuit against HHS, claiming that being forced to comply with Title X regulations infringes on its First Amendment Rights

Obria filed a lawsuit against HHS in order to retain its Title X funding without having to comply with its regulations such as and providing birth control and referrals to abortion providers, claiming the regulations are an infringement on its First Amendment rights. “A California chain of faith-based clinics is suing HHS, claiming it can’t administer more than $5 million in federal family planning funds because current program rules infringe on its First Amendment rights…Instead, Obria has to comply with existing standards that require recipients to offer contraception and counseling that includes discussing abortion.” [Politico 5/20/19]

The suit was filed after a federal court blocked new HHS rules which would have barred Title X providers from offering abortion referrals.

“The complaint in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, Calif., states the Obria Group has been put in an untenable situation because courts temporarily stayed new Trump administration rules for the Title X program that would have, among other things, barred providers in the program from offering or referring patients for abortions.” [Politico 5/20/19]

Obria’s lawsuit says compliance with Title X regulations is “a Hobson’s Choice.”

“‘Obria and its clinics are now put to a Hobson’s choice,’ the suit states. ‘They may either accept the money — which would mean accepting the abortion referral requirement to which they have deep religious objections — or they can decline to do so, meaning that the funds will be forfeited and Obria clinics will be unable to provide much-needed healthcare to needy women across California.’” [Politico 5/20/19]

…Only to drop the lawsuit in June 2019 when HHS announced it wouldn’t force Title X Grantees to comply with regulations necessitating they offer abortion referrals

Obria dropped its lawsuit against HHS after the agency stated that it won’t force providers with religious objections to comply with current rules requiring patients who request an abortion be referred for one. “A California chain of faith-based clinics has dropped a lawsuit against HHS after the agency assured the clinics they would not have to choose between forfeiting more then $5 million in federal family planning funds and violating their moral opposition to abortion. In a letter from the assistant secretary for health at HHS, the agency Thursday affirmed it won’t force providers with religious objections to comply with a provision of current rules that requires patients be referred for abortions at their request. Lawyers for the Obria Group promptly dropped their claim, which contended that the rules violated their religious rights and free speech.” [Politico,  6/14/19]

Attorney for Obria: “It’s great to see the government admit that no doctor, nurse, or other medical professional should ever have to violate her beliefs in order to serve people in need,” “In a court filing on Friday, Obria’s lawyers invoked these rules, which have clearly been reassuring: the nonprofit voluntarily dropping the suit. ‘It’s great to see the government admit that no doctor, nurse, or other medical professional should ever have to violate her beliefs in order to serve people in need,’ Lori Windham, an attorney for Obria, wrote in a statement to Jezebel. The statement went on to quote Kathleen Eaton-Bravo, Obria’s founder and CEO: ‘I am grateful Obria Clinics will be able to continue the groundbreaking medical work we do.’” [The Slot 6/18/19]

Campaign For Accountability: “Obria appears to be talking out of both sides of its mouth”

Campaign For Accountability said that Obria’s contradictory assertions regarding the birth control provision to HHS vs. its supporters cannot both be true. “Obria appears to be talking out of both sides of its mouth,” Alice Huling, counsel for the Campaign for Accountability, said in a statement. “We know that Obria committed to HHS, in at least one Title X application, that it would provide access to several forms of birth control. Yet Obria has also assured its anti-contraception supporters and religious allies that it will never provide or refer for birth control. Both of these assertions cannot be true.” [Rewire.News, 5/14/19]

April 2019: House Energy & Commerce Committee launched a probe into the 2019 Title X grant process…

The House Energy & Commerce Committee launched a probe into HHS’ handling of the Title X program, with focus on its cutting of funds for Planned Parenthood and distribution of funds to Obria.  

“House Democrats are launching a probe of the Trump administration’s decision to fund an anti-abortion group through a federal family planning program while cutting government support for Planned Parenthood.  The Trump administration announced last month that four Planned Parenthood affiliates would not be awarded Title X family planning grants this year, despite receiving them in the past. The administration also announced that, for the first time, it would fund Obria, a chain of anti-abortion clinics that don’t provide contraception.” [The Hill 4/18/19]

  • Obria oversees a network of anti-abortion clinics, most of which will not provide birth control or abortions. Those that do provide birth control will not use Title X funding to pay for them.

Obria will oversee the work of seven clinic partners, including three of its affiliates that don’t provide contraceptives or perform abortions, in four California counties. Of the other four clinics under Obria’s oversight, two will provide contraceptives, but won’t be allowed to use Title X family planning grant program funds to pay for it, a spokesperson told The Hill last month. The Democrats argue this arrangement violates congressional intent for the program.” [The Hill 4/18/19]

  • The Hill: “The Democrats Asked HHS To Provide All Documents And Communications Between HHS And Obria Regarding The Title X Program Over The Past Two Years And Its Applications For Funding.” [The Hill 4/18/19]

… The congressional probe came after a watchdog group flagged misrepresentations in Obria’s unsuccessful fy19 title x grant application in the state of Texas. 

Campaign for Accountability wrote the Department of Health and Human Services to inform it of misrepresentations in Obria’s Texas Title X grant which — unlike its California grant — it did not get.

Campaign for Accountability (‘CfA’) respectfully writes to inform the Offices of Population Affairs and of Grants Management of misrepresentations and omissions made by the Obria Group, in conjunction with the Heidi Group, Midland Community Healthcare Services, and the Community Wellness Clinic of Conroe, in their FY 2019 Title X Family Planning Services Grant application (hereinafter the ‘Obria grant application’). Specifically, the Obria grant application appears to inflate the number of patients seen by the Heidi group clinic on a regular basis, identifies a former employee as Heidi group’s top quality assurance officer even though she had left the organization eight to nine months before the organizations submitted the application, and fails to disclose pertinent information regarding the terminated state contracts.” [Campaign for Accountability, 3/21/19]

Close This Read More

Obria is now attempting a nationwide expansion of affiliate centers.

Obria launched an “affiliate expansion” plan in 2018.

 Late last year, Obria launched a $240 million fundraising campaign, much of which was earmarked for brand and affiliate expansion: “With 3,000 stand-alone pregnancy centers currently in the US, uniting under a national brand will help centers move from crisis management to a holistic healthcare model,” the company wrote.” [Jezebel, 3/26/19]

Obria aims to have 200 clinics operating by 2021.

Growing from three centers and a mobile van, Obria now has 30 clinics in five states — the more liberal California, Oregon and Washington and the more conservative Iowa and Georgia — and aims to reach 200 sites by 2021.” [Politico, 12/16/18]

As of April 2019, Obria Group’s website boasts 35 Obria “affiliate clinics,” 22 Obria clinics “in process” and at least seven Obria “clinic inquiries” across the United States.

[Obria Group, accessed 4/17/19]

Close This Read More
Scroll Up