An education organization has moved a previously scheduled conference in Texas to Colorado, saying it wants to make sure abortion services are available for attendees.
The Association for Education Finance and Policy announced in an August blog post that its March conference would relocate from Fort Worth, Texas, to Denver, after claiming it had heard from “members who felt they could not risk their health and safety by traveling to Fort Worth for our 2023 annual meeting.”
This claim is predicated by a fear of Texas anti-abortion laws that took effect following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision in late June, which overturned Roe v. Wade and cleared the way for state residents to decide how to legislate on abortion through their own referendums or elected state representatives.
Curiously, the Association for Education Finance and Policy’s board claims that AEFP “is not a political organization, and we value that our members hold diverse beliefs.” AEFP describes itself as an education policy think tank and networking organization that aims to “improve education policy so that all students have access to educational opportunities and are given the means to succeed in school and their lives.”
“It is not our purpose to advocate for one set of beliefs or another,” the AEFP board says, before trying to rationalize moving an entire conference because someone might not be able to have an abortion during the three-day event scheduled to begin March 25.
What follows is a hilariously contrived situation in the most dramatic of means possible. The Association for Education Finance and Policy claims that a situation could arise in which a pregnant conference attendee (who was somehow cleared to travel to the event by her OB-GYN) might have a “catastrophic” complication that “requires health care treatment that [she] could not access.”
While claiming not to be a political organization, the AEFP board then analyzes and interprets Texas law to conclude that the state would not care for the life of the mother.
This hysteria follows a series of economists’ inaccurate reactions to the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Steven Durlauf of the University of Chicago demanded that all conferences be moved out of “anti-abortion” states. Corinne Low of Wharton misinterpreted Louisiana state law and suggested she would have been refused care during a miscarriage if she had been attending an AEFP conference in New Orleans—which is patently false. Not a single reported case in Texas or Louisiana is about a mother suffering from a miscarriage and subsequent infection who was turned away or denied service.
Jennifer Doleac, an economics professor from Texas A&M University, suggested that the Association for Education Finance and Policy provide medevac helicopter services for emergency abortions during its conference.
If that sounds blisteringly absurd to you, it should. AEFP even seems to think so, following its previous imaginary situation with the words: “Such extreme events may be unlikely during the period of travel to a conference. However, the membership survey data suggest some members have real concerns about their personal risk.”
The reality of the situation falls when AEFP cites that membership survey data, in which “24% of survey respondents said they would be unlikely or very unlikely to attend the conference if it was held in Fort Worth.”
The Association for Education Finance and Policy claims not to be a political organization while bowing to whatever political protest knocks on its door.
The rest of AEFP’s blog post laughs off the idea of a hybrid option for those with political objections to a city in Texas, and pretends to create a statistical situation in which 6% of conference attendees in fact could be pregnant mothers in need of abortions.
To offset the $100,000 cost of moving the conference from Texas to Colorado, AEFP announced that it had raised the money through additional sponsors.
The sponsors listed include the Strategic Data Project, the Walton Family Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, EdChoice, Harvard University, Michigan State University, Boston University, American University, Vanderbilt, Northern Illinois University, and Northwestern University.
At least six publicly funded universities have sponsored an event at the conference that openly campaigns as a pro-abortion protest.
One longtime member told The Daily Signal that the Association for Education Finance and Policy never has asked members if they felt safe attending conferences in violence-ridden cities such as Washington, D.C., Boston, Louisville, Kentucky, or Baltimore—but took the time to consider whether someone might need an abortion during a three-day conference.
Muggings and robberies have a far higher statistical chance of occurring near the hotels and conference centers AEFP previously has hosted than the necessity of “emergency abortion services.”
The Daily Signal asked AEFP whether it considers the health and safety of conference attendees on the streets of the host city as much as over abortion opportunities there, but received no response by publication time.
One might suggest that the Association for Education Finance and Policy focus on education finance and policy—rather than preen over the social issues of the day to gain points with the bleating screams from progressive advocates who seek to slam the Overton window shut. One would hope that an education conference would welcome a diversity of thoughts and ideas, rather than goose-stepping behind the ideological puritanism of the Left, which makes all demands with no compromises.
Unfortunately, one will find his tax dollars paying for the very things he could be politically and morally opposed to—and will be brushed off as uncaring the moment he mentions it.
The Association for Education Finance and Policy joins a long line of education academia organizations that toss aside the useful tools of data for the shiny and fragile toys of activism.
This article was modified within an hour of publication to identify Jennifer Doleac correctly as an economics professor at Texas A&M university.
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