There is a fast-rising trend in the abortion industry and among its supporters to intimidate and shut down pro-life pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) using a variety of tactics. Abortion advocates are leaving fake reviews of pro-life centers online, and some are attacking the centers themselves with graffiti and firebombs. Yelp and Google have also lent support to anti-PRC sentiment. Abortion organizations are being quieter with their efforts, but behind closed doors, they are feeding specific language to city councils designed to help them write unconstitutional ordinances, which have proved effective in some cities. Those ordinances are attempting to dictate how pregnancy centers advertise and what they tell their clients.
In June 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a 5-4 victory to pro-life pregnancy centers in the case NIFLA v. Becerra, as California’s 2015 “Reproductive FACT Act” attempted to force non-profit pregnancy resource centers to promote abortion through government-mandated messaging. The court ruled that the FACT Act “likely violates the First Amendment,” and sent the case back to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
That ruling should have prevented anti-PRC ordinances from passing in any city, yet they continue to be introduced.
Legitimate pro-life health care
Clearway Clinic, a pro-life pregnancy center licensed by the state of Massachusetts as a women’s health clinic, recently came up against two proposed anti-PRC ordinances. Clearway Clinic has two centers — one in Springfield and one in Worcester — with six state-licensed nurses and four state-licensed physicians between them. Each is within three miles of a Planned Parenthood.
“We are actually licensed by the state itself as a women’s health clinic. So for our state leaders to come out and say that we’re not licensed is categorically false and demonstrably so. The thrust of this is we provided an alternative to Planned Parenthood, and we do not provide or refer for abortion, and we educate our clients on the dangers of abortion,” Clearway Clinic Executive Director Kelly Wilcox told Live Action News.
She explained that the abortion industry wants women to believe that abortion is “like getting stitches put in.” However, she explained, “Abortion has really significant impacts on a woman’s future, on her emotional health, her spiritual health, and possibly her physical health as well. There are a lot of risks to having an abortion that they [the abortion clinics] don’t like us telling women. That’s why they hate us.”
Who is behind anti-PRC laws?
Cambridge and Somerville, two Massachusetts cities, are located in extremely pro-abortion areas of the state. It was there that two anti-PRC ordinances were able to pass uncontested even though there isn’t a single PRC in either city.
When another proposed ordinance came up for the town of Easthampton, Wilcox knew it was time to fight back, as it was a tertiary market to Springfield, where Clearway has a center. They learned, through a statement from Councilor Owen Zaret, that Planned Parenthood had requested that he propose the “Deceptive Advertising Practices of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers” ordinance for the city of Easthampton to adopt.
“Clearly, the lobbyists for the abortion industry are passing around bills to various friendly audiences,” said Wilcox. “And I say friendly audiences — people who have contributed to their campaign. They are getting meetings and they’re giving the same language to different council members in different cities.”
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She continued, “The language, as it’s proposed, that now we know is from Planned Parenthood, is unconstitutional on a number of points. It’s viewpoint discrimination. It’s compelled speech, and then when they add this requirement to force you to perform or refer for abortion or provide abortifacients like the morning after pill, you’re now talking about a freedom of religion issue. […] All we had to do in Easthampton was to bring up those elements that fly in the face of constitutional rights,” said Wilcox, “[…] and to talk about how different cities have had to pay millions of dollars in fines when these things are contested.”
Victory for women
After the public hearings, the Easthampton proposed ordinance was withdrawn. The city attorney has since refused to address it, and the mayor has refused to assign any resources to it. For the moment, it appears to be dead.
As for the women and families helped by Clearway Clinic, they are able to receive support in a variety of ways. That includes free pregnancy tests, free ultrasounds, a consultation with a nurse, free STD testing, and parenting classes. About 17% of women who visit Clearway Clinic decide to have an abortion, and if they struggle with post-abortion trauma, Clearway Clinic provides them with after-abortion care and support for healing. Last year, 12 women turned to Clearway Clinic for post-abortion support.
“I was alongside a group of women [at Clearway] who also had gone through the same trauma, and I could finally breathe and I could heal,” Corinne Kimball, a post-abortive client of Clearway, told the Worcester City Council. “I know many women could benefit from Clearway as well.”
Overall, Clearway helped 624 families last year. Twenty percent (20%) of the women had already had an abortion. The clinic also offers abortion pill reversal (1-877-558-0333), which reportedly carries a 64% chance of saving the baby’s life after the mother takes the first pill of the abortion pill regime. Clearway Clinic can connect women to housing, help with domestic abuse, help with babysitting, assistance with continuing their education while pregnant and parenting, assistance obtaining health insurance, and help with finding a doctor. They also provide material items and have church communities that throw baby showers for expectant parents.
The fight continues
Another anti-PRC ordinance was brought up in Worcester, Massachusetts, where Clearway Clinic has a second center. After a large public hearing, which included testimony from four Clearway clients who spoke in support of PRCs, the council voted in July on whether or not to consider an ordinance. The vote was 5-5.
The mayor cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of considering an ordinance, and the city manager and the city attorney were tasked with writing up the ordinance. At this time, no ordinance has since been submitted.
“Most of our patients have families. They have jobs. They just need support,” said Wilcox. “They need to be told that there is support, that there is care, that they can do it, that we believe in them. One of the things that, to me, hurts women so much is for all these people who think they know better to tell women, ‘Well because X,Y and Z aren’t in their life you shouldn’t be a mom.’ That’s a very cruel thing to say. In other words, you’re telling someone else they’re not worthy to be a mom. From our view, a pregnancy is a gift. It doesn’t always look like a gift from humans’ eyes, but it’s a gift — and it’s that gift of really unbelievable love that will help women start making better decisions and get out of the situation they are in.”
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Brittany is an example of how love for a child can change a person’s life trajectory. She had been struggling with addiction for years, was just out of rehab, and was homeless when she learned she was pregnant. “I had always wanted to have a child,” she said in a video for Clearway Clinic. “I just didn’t want to bring a child into that situation. So I was really unsure of what I was going to do. I wasn’t even on speaking terms with my family. I was homeless, living out of my car. It was terrifying.”
Clearway Clinic was able to help Brittany and today, about seven years later, she and her son are thriving — and still in touch with the center. She is just one example of the hundreds of women who have received real help from a PRC when facing an unplanned pregnancy.
Recently, Wilcox said they helped a woman who had been dropped off by her abusive boyfriend. He had been jumping on her stomach and punching her to try to kill her preborn baby. He threatened to break up with her if she kept the baby. Clearway was able to secure domestic abuse housing for her.
Another client, Odyssey, initially thought Clearway Clinic was an abortion facility. But once she met the volunteers and staff, learned about her options, and got advice from them, she said everything changed. She realized she could be a mother to her baby. Without Clearway Clinic, she said, her daughter — “her best friend” — wouldn’t be here.
To help change minds, spread the truth, and find support for PRCs, Wilcox has invited city council members to visit Clearway Clinic — and so far, two have taken her up on that offer. She is also working with other PRCs to form a PRC Coalition so they can work together to prevent anti-life ordinances from being passed in their respective cities in the future.
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