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Legal attacks mount against Massachusetts crisis pregnancy centers

An interview with Teresa Larkin, Executive Director of Your Options Medical in Revere, Massachusetts, about the situation in the Bay State.

(Image: Amr Taha™/

Crisis pregnancy centers are institutions, often local and highly volunteer-dependent, that work to make women in crisis pregnancies aware of options and support other than abortion available to them. Individual centers offer services ranging the gamut from medical assistance, like pregnancy tests or ultrasounds to social counseling to information on resources available to pregnant women, adoption procedures, group homes or home placement for women needing it (especially in abusive situations) to basic goods like diapers and baby clothes.

What they don’t offer are abortions. And that has the abortion industry and their political allies frothing.

Massachusetts is fast competing with California to become the epicenter of anti-crisis pregnancy center restrictions. California politicians in 2015 enacted legislation attempting to force crisis pregnancy centers to provide information—including posters in their facilities in multiple languages—where women could obtain abortions. They attempted to characterize the failure to do so as “deceptive advertising.” The centers, on the other hand, called it a denial of their free speech, California attempting to force them to make abortion referrals. Then-California Attorney General (now Health and Human Services Secretary) Xavier Becerra took the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he was duly swatted down. The California act was declared unconstitutional in 2018.

Abortion advocates are not giving up. Multiple Massachusetts cities, a state where local “town government” traditions are quite strong, are attempting to enact similar compelled abortion promotion obligations for crisis pregnancy centers. Similar legislation is pending in the Massachusetts State Legislature.

Catholic World Report spoke recently with Teresa Larkin, Executive Director of Your Options Medical in Revere, Massachusetts, about the situation in the Bay State.

CWR: Easthampton, Massachusetts, has adopted a local municipal ordinance against pregnancy resource centers. Similar proposals are being considered in Worcester. What do these ordinances require and what’s the driving force behind them?

Teresa Larkin: These ordinances are centered around a “deceptive advertising” campaign that claims that pregnancy centers use misleading practices when offering their services.

Opponents claim that any advertising which includes the word ‘abortion” is deceptive because we do not provide abortions or make abortion referrals. While claiming they are for “choice,” they dismiss the argument that centers provide information on abortion, such as differences in procedures, risks associated with abortion. or even post-abortion support. According to them, even though centers’ public outreach clearly indicates their pro-life commitments and includes disclaimers such as “we do not provide or refer for abortions” that is not sufficient.

Examples of some requirements would be similar to a California statute (that was struck down) that centers must post in numerous languages that they do not provide abortions and need to include a list of clinics where a woman can obtain an abortion.

CWR: These are local ordinances. Is there any similar effort at the state level?

Larkin: There are currently bills in both houses of the Massachusetts Legislature known as “An Act to Protect Patient Privacy and Prevent Unfair and Deceptive Advertising of Pregnancy Related Services” (HB77/SB174). If enacted, the legislation would allow the State Attorney General to decide whether a crisis pregnancy center has made a deceptive statement and impose a $1,000 fine for every “deceptive” statement identified.

CWR: Senator Elizabeth Warren has been a vociferous opponent of crisis pregnancy centers, attacking them on the Senate floor. Both she and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey introduced legislation in the last Congress to empower the Federal Trade Commission to fine and prosecute “abortion disinformation.” Your thoughts?

Larkin: I don’t have any updates beyond her early public statements that “pregnancy centers need to be shut down.” She has repeatedly been invited to meet with center directors in Massachusetts, but to date has ignored our invitations and appears to be unwilling to meet with those in the state that she represents who hold a different viewpoint than she does.

CWR: Describe what the lay of the land in Massachusetts for crisis pregnancy centers looks like. How many are there, what do they do, and what’s their impact?

Larkin: There are currently 31 non-profit organizations that are being characterized as “crisis pregnancy centers.” Most organizations, however, no longer use that term because it does not accurately portray the variety of life-affirming centers that exist to support women facing an unplanned pregnancy. Those who oppose our work are uneducated on the distinctions between such organizations.

In Massachusetts, twenty-two organizations provide free pregnancy confirmation services that include lab-quality pregnancy testing and options counseling. These centers either provide on-site ultrasound exams or refer for ultrasound. Many also provide parenting classes, material resources and referrals to community organizations that provide additional support services such as housing and health insurance.

In addition, six centers provide free nearly unlimited material resources for pregnant women and their families. Three maternity homes provide safe housing, education, and job training.

All of these organizations rely on private donations and receive no state or federal funding. Most have been operating anywhere from twenty to thirty years and have helped tens of thousands of families.

CWR: Massachusetts crisis pregnancy centers have banded together to defend themselves against these legal attacks. In post-Dobbs America, some have even been physically attacked. Please tell us about these efforts.

Larkin: Several pregnancy centers have united to form the Pregnancy Care Alliance (PCALL) of Massachusetts. We are working tirelessly but enthusiastically to educate the people of Massachusetts about the valuable work that our organizations are doing. We opened our doors to the public by hosting statewide Open House to invite the public in to learn who we are and what services we offer.

All of our elected officials were invited: sadly, however, with but a few exceptions, none attended. We are currently planning a public awareness campaign that will include billboards, radio spots, newspaper ads and digital advertising.

A few centers experienced property damage, including being spray painted with “If abortions aren’t safe, neither are you” and carrying a Jane’s Revenge signature.

CWR: What can people do to defend crisis pregnancy centers?

Larkin: People can, first of all, pray! We know that prayer is the greatest weapon against the lies and deception being leveled at us.

People also need to educate themselves so they can dispute the lies and misinformation that they might be hearing. Do you know where your local pregnancy center is? Find out! Support it in whatever way that you now can, be it your time, talent, or treasure.

Pastors in particular need to be courageous in leading by example. Engage your parish in supporting its local center! Speak out against the radical expansion and entrenchment of abortion here in Massachusetts! Pray faithfully and diligently! Offering women practical help when faced with a difficult pregnancy is as important as tackling the legal status of abortion.

Finally, show your appreciation for those who are working at the centers. Words of encouragement mean so much to us who have been dealing with relentless attacks against our centers. Stand with us!

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  1. You have to wonder why the professional murderers are so upset. Or is it that they feel financially / politically threatened? After all, a crisis pregnancy center is just their equal counterpart. They do not offer abortion services, just like abortion clinics provide no viable aid or encouragement to continue a pregnancy. Even-steven, isn’t it? . So, what is their gripe, really? I find myself especially disgusted by the proactive govt movements in all areas to suppress free speech and religious freedom in this area. You know, arresting those praying near a clinic, or showing up at a mans home with police cars and guns as if he was Al Capone and arresting him as if he were a violent criminal. We all know these moves are calculated to impress the weak-minded and to intimidate. Like Canada we are rapidly going down a dangerous leftist road from which there may be no return. And again, lets judge the IQ of the average DEM voter. They WANT this??? Not a sane choice. Communism didnt work out so well anyplace it’s been tried, has it? Yet how amazing most liberals either are uninformed of that FACT or chose to ignore it. Its past time the church take a more VOCAL and active role in these issues.Although thats likely not to happen with the weak and left leaning Pope we have now.Small glimmer of hope with the Bishop of Cleveland Diocese in Ohio. Kudos to that Priest for knowing what is right and speaking the truth with clarity, no matter who is offended or upset, including Rome. Lets see if he can stand the heat.

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  1. Legal attacks mount against Massachusetts crisis pregnancy centers – Via Nova
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