After suspending plans to enforce an ordinance against pregnancy resource centers back in June, the mayor of Hartford, Connecticut is again moving forward with it. The controversial ordinance forces Hartford’s pregnancy resource centers to post signage stating when there is not “a licensed medical provider on site”.
Previously, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin was attempting to force pregnancy resource centers to advertise the availability of free and low-cost abortions in the city. It was scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2018. However, on June 26, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of pregnancy resource centers in the California case of NIFLA v. Becerra, in which the government was mandating that pregnancy centers dispense information about abortion. Because of that ruling, Bronin consulted lawyers to see just how far he could go in trying to keep women from seeking help at pregnancy resource centers in his city.
Beginning on October 1, Hartford pregnancy centers — specifically, the Hartford Women’s Center, which is located next to an abortion clinic — must place a sign in the window that states they don’t have a licensed medical provider… in both English and Spanish. In addition, center staff must state the same on all phone calls and on their websites. They face fines of $100 a day if they fail to comply.
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood is pushing for women to have more access to at home abortions without any medical staff. They also fight laws that require abortionists to have admitting privileges at local hospitals in case of emergencies.
“It’s so disheartening,” Molly Hurtado, executive director of the ABC Women’s Center in Middletown, CT said in an interview with the Hartford Courant. “On average, we all service thousands of women every year who freely choose to come to our centers, so to paint this image that we are intentionally deceiving women is not only offensive to me … but to all of the women who have freely chosen to come year after year.”
Hartford Women’s Center does have a licensed doctor as their medical director, as well as nurses. It is the second location of St. Gerard’s Center for Life, also located in Hartford. They provide support and services to women facing unplanned pregnancies who want to choose life, but feel like they can’t.
“Sixty percent of women going in for an abortion [later] say they had no choice,” Leticia Velasquez, director of the two centers, told the Catholic Transcript in 2017. “So we want to be there to give them a choice.”
Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, told the Hartford Courant that he has arranged for a lawyer to assist the Hartford Women’s Center which may sue the city over the ordinance. Pro-life pregnancy centers in Baltimore, Maryland just won a similar lawsuit regarding an ordinance that would have forced them to post signs stating they do not provide or refer for abortions.
“This is what the City of Hartford wants to spend its time on, is attacking this poor center that just wants to help women who choose to carry their child to term,” Wolfgang told NBC CT. “I think that’s nuts and I hope it does end up in court and I hope the city ends up paying.”