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Massachusetts city’s anti-pregnancy center ordinance fails

by | Aug 9, 2023

By Bridget Sielicki

A proposed ordinance to disparage and penalize pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) in the city of Easthampton, Massachusetts, has died. The City Council failed to secure enough votes on August 2 to overturn the mayor’s July veto of the ordinance.

The ordinance aimed to silence the so-called “deceptive advertising” by PRCs, which do not offer or refer women for abortions. According to the New Boston Post, the ordinance would have also had the city “endorse” abortion, would have the city “notify the public” about ways residents could file a consumer complaint against a PRC, and would have prohibited city employees from providing information about people involved with abortion to out-of-state officials.

The city currently has one PRC, Bethlehem House, which was vandalized last year.

On July 5, City Council members voted 6-1 to approve the ordinance, but it was vetoed the next day by Mayor Nicole LaChapelle. Though LaChapelle is pro-abortion, she feared the ordinance’s passage would cause the city to be subject to costly litigation. Although it initially appeared the council would have the necessary six votes needed to override LaChapelle’s veto, one council member changed his mind and the resulting 5-3 vote means that the ordinance has died.

Easthampton is not the first Massachusetts city that has pushed hard for an ordinance limiting PRCs only for the ordinance to fail in the end. A recent Worcester ordinance that would compel that city’s PRCs to discuss abortion options was dropped after city leaders realized it was unenforceable.

Though Governor Maura Healy issued a “warning” against PRCs when she was attorney general last year, it appears she was also responsible for warning against the passage of such ordinances on the basis that they would likely result in litigation.

The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts hailed the ordinance’s ultimate demise as “a victory for the First Amendment rights of crisis pregnancy centers, whose faith based ministries offer women compassionate alternatives to abortion.”

“This entire movement to target, demonize and restrict crisis pregnancy centers using contrived and unfounded claims of deception has its origins in an abortion industry, which has a compelling financial interest in suppressing its opposition,” said Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle.

Editor’s note. This appeared at Live Action News and reposted with permission.