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Supreme Court denies pregnancy center appeal to keep donor information private

May 15, 2024 Catholic News Agency 0
A dedication ceremony for the ultrasound machine donated by the Knights of Columbus to the First Choice Women’s Resource Center in New Brunswick, N.J. / Credit: Knights of Columbus

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 15, 2024 / 15:26 pm (CNA).

The Supreme Court has denied a New Jersey pro-life pregnancy center’s appeal to keep its donor list and other correspondence private. 

This comes after New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin, a Democrat, subpoenaed First Choice Women’s Resource Centers in November 2023 for “possible violations” against the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act relating to the group’s handling of patient data and statements about abortion pill reversal. 

Through the subpoena, Platkin ordered First Choice to turn over much of its internal communications as well as communications with patients and donors, some of which would reveal donors’ private information. 

Shortly before issuing the subpoena, Platkin signed onto a letter in which he and 15 other attorneys general accused pro-life pregnancy centers of spreading “harmful” misinformation about reproductive health care. The letter also accused pregnancy centers of using “deceptive tactics to lure in patients.”

First Choice is a Christian ministry that operates five pregnancy resource centers in New Jersey that offer pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, venereal disease screenings and treatment, and counseling. 

Represented by the law firm Alliance Defending Freedom, First Choice countersued in December 2023 to block Platkin’s subpoena. The ministry claimed that the subpoena violates its rights under the First and 14th Amendments and that it was being “selectively and unlawfully” targeted because of its pro-life views.

“AG Platkin never cited any complaint or other substantive evidence of wrongdoing to justify his demands but has launched an exploratory probe into the lawful activities, constitutionally protected speech, religious observance, constitutionally protected associations, and nonpublic internal communications and records of a nonprofit organization that holds a view with which he disagrees as a matter of public policy,” First Choice wrote in its countersuit.

First Choice’s request to block the subpoena has since been dismissed by a New Jersey circuit judge, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and now the Supreme Court. 


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Trenton Bishop released from Rome hospital after heart attack 

January 9, 2024 Catholic News Agency 0
Following his release, Bishop David O’Connell (third from left) joined Father Jean Felicien, Monsignor Thomas N. Gervasio, and Monsignor Sam Sirianni at their hotel in Rome. / Credit: staff photo

CNA Staff, Jan 9, 2024 / 17:40 pm (CNA).

Bishop David M. O’Connell of the Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey, was released from a hospital in Rome on Tuesday, five days after suffering a heart attack, a spokesman for the diocese said. 

He was taken to Santo Spirito hospital last Thursday, where he had surgery to open the completely blocked left anterior descending artery, which is the largest cardiac artery in the body, according to the diocese. The type of heart attack the bishop sustained is known as a “widowmaker.” 

O’Connell, 68, told other diocesan officials by email that he feels “very lucky” to have gotten medical care quickly after the heart attack, according to, the news website for the diocese, which consists of four counties in central New Jersey.  

Bishop David O'Connell after his release from the hospital. Credit: staff photo
Bishop David O’Connell after his release from the hospital. Credit: staff photo

“He also gratefully acknowledged that he has received hundreds of get well wishes from throughout the diocese and the wider Church. He again thanked everyone for their support and prayers,” reported Tuesday. 

O’Connell grew up not far from Philadelphia. He is a member of the Congregation of the Mission, which is more commonly known as the Vincentians, after its founder, St. Vincent de Paul.  

He served as president of The Catholic University of America from 1998 to 2010. He has served as bishop of Trenton since 2010. 

In December 2014, O’Connell had the lower part of his left leg amputated because of recurring infections caused by diabetes. 

The bishop went to Italy recently to lead a pilgrimage of 20 priests and two lay diocesan staff members to holy sites in Rome and Assisi. 

He plans to return to New Jersey later this week with the other pilgrims and there continue his recovery and rehabilitation.