Washington AG drops investigation into pregnancy resource centers

pregnant, Texas, friend, pregnancy center, abortion

After launching an investigation into pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) described as illegal and unconstitutional, the state of Washington has dropped the investigation after it caused the PRCs demonstrable harm.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson previously issued demands to Obria Group and Obria Medical Groups PNW, alleging in an interview with Bloomberg Law that he was “deeply concerned about any effort to deceive pregnant Washingtonians about their reproductive health care options.” Ferguson demanded the PRCs provide patient information, records, and activities dating as far back as 2010, claiming he wanted to check for violations of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act. Tellingly, only the two PRCs were targeted, and not the dozens of other similar organizations.

Obria and Obria Medical partnered with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which filed a lawsuit against Ferguson in December. “The U.S. Constitution protects Obria Group and Obria Medical Groups PNW’s right to freely speak their beliefs, freely exercise their faith, freely associate with like-minded individuals and organizations, and continue to provide services in a caring and compassionate environment to women and men facing difficult pregnancy circumstances,” ADF Senior Counsel Tim Garrison said. “Our clients have already expended exorbitant time and financial resources trying to comply with the unreasonable demands made by Washington’s attorney general and we urge the court to swiftly halt his unlawful actions.”

ADF argued that the “overbroad, invasive, selective, and burdensome investigative demands” violated the PRCs’ First, Fourth, and 14th Amendment rights.

READ: Pregnancy centers under attack: NY center firebombed, NC center vandalized as violence rises

Ferguson claimed he didn’t cause any harm to the PRCs, and therefore, federal courts shouldn’t hear the lawsuit against him. However, after one of the centers showed that the investigation had caused them harm — causing them to lose insurance coverage and pay seven times more for replacement coverage — Ferguson officially dropped the investigation rather than answer in court. ADF still wants the courts to confirm that Ferguson unlawfully targeted PRCs simply for their pro-life beliefs.

“No one should be investigated by the government simply because they hold views the government doesn’t like. We’re pleased Washington’s attorney general has ceased his unlawful investigation into our clients, and that Obria Group and Obria Medical Clinics PNW will be free to continue their life-saving work in the community,” ADF Senior Counsel Lincoln Wilson said in a press release. “We look forward to a ruling from the court confirming that the attorney general unlawfully targeted and harassed these clinics because of their pro-life stance. The Constitution protects Obria medical clinics, and all other pro-life organizations, to freely speak their beliefs, exercise their faith, and continue compassionately serving women and couples facing difficult pregnancy circumstances.”

Despite providing more than $367 million in services to women and families in 2022, pro-life PRCs have been under attack from both the government and abortion advocates in recent years. Attorneys general from 17 states, all Democrats, formed a “Reproductive Rights Working Group” dedicated to promoting abortion and attacking PRCs. The group includes representatives from pro-abortion organizations, including the National Abortion Federation and the National Women’s Law Center. PRCs have also faced vandalism and firebombings, with little to no action taken against the perpetrators.

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