Somerville Squeezes Crisis Pregnancy Centers

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City officials in Somerville are trying to discourage crisis pregnancy centers from opening there.

The Somerville City Council recently approved a ban on what the city government calls “deceptive” advertising by “limited service pregnancy centers.” Those are pregnancy centers that don’t provide abortions and emergency contraception.

Each infraction in theory carries a $300 fine.

Somerville is the first Massachusetts community to enact this sort of local restriction. The Connecticut legislature enacted a similar statute in May 2021; a federal lawsuit challenging the law on First Amendment free-speech and free-exercise-of-religion grounds is pending.

The Somerville City Council approved the ordinance 11-0 on March 24. Though the vote occurred about two months ago, it seems to have gone unreported until now.

Somerville City Councilor-at-Large Kristen Strezo led the push to pass the ordinance. During the meeting, Strezo ripped into crisis pregnancy centers, calling them a threat to abortion.

“So this would be an ordinance concerning deceptive advertising practices of limited service pregnancy centers against disinformation which crisis pregnancy centers are known to distribute willingly,” Strezo said during the meeting.

Somerville doesn’t have any crisis pregnancy centers currently.

“If any were to come to Somerville or try to establish themselves in Somerville, we want to make very clear and sure that our Somerville residents have the most accurate information, are respected, and are able to make reproductive decisions with dignity,” Strezo said.

Strezo also emphasized her support for abortion during the meeting.

“Reproductive justice is under attack nationally and at a state level,” she said. “We are not safe here in Massachusetts and abortion is health care. It’s just that simple.”

Strezo was the only city councilor to speak on the issue during the meeting.

Crisis pregnancy centers are facilities that offer assistance to women facing unintended pregnancies. They’re not abortion clinics, nor do they refer people to abortion clinics. They provide expecting mothers with free services, including pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, as well as baby supplies, like diapers. They also provide expecting mothers with information for services available to pregnant women, including adoption and advice and resources to help with raising a child.

They’re run by pro-lifers who want to inform women of alternatives to abortion.

Here is the wording of the new ordinance in Somerville:


No limited services pregnancy center, with the intent to perform a pregnancy-related service, shall make or disseminate before the public, or cause to be made or disseminated before the public, in any newspaper or other publication, through any advertising device, or in any other manner, including, but not limited to, through use of the Internet, any statement concerning any pregnancy-related service or the provision of any pregnancy-related service that is deceptive, whether by statement or omission, and that a limited services pregnancy center knows or reasonably should know to be deceptive.


By “limited services,” the ordinance means not supporting abortion.

Here is how the rule defines “limited services pregnancy center”:


(7) “Limited services pregnancy center” means a pregnancy services center that does not directly provide, or provide referrals for, abortions or emergency contraception;


Somerville’s Inspectional Services Division is in charge of enforcing the law.

Massachusetts Citizens for Life executive director Patricia Stewart told NewBostonPost in an email message that the city council abused its power with this decision, limiting women’s options when they face an unintended pregnancy. 

“This raw abuse of power by pro-abortion ideologues on Somerville’s City Council only harms people they were elected to serve,” Stewart wrote. “Their action deprives desperate women in crisis pregnancies of the opportunity to choose to continue a pregnancy with the help of the free services, resources, and care that a crisis pregnancy center – and no one else – will provide. With breathtaking arrogance, they presume to decide that for Somerville’s pregnant women in crisis, their best and only option is abortion. Disgraceful.”


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