Criminal Background Checks For Pro-Lifers At Crisis Pregnancy Centers? Somerville To Talk About It

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A Somerville city councilor is calling for city officials to study the feasibility of requiring criminal background checks and sex offender checks for people who staff pro-life crisis pregnancy centers, if any ever come to Somerville.

Kristen Strezo, a member of the city council, brought up the idea during a city council meeting Thursday, September 22.

Strezo said (at 2:23:16 of the city council meeting video):


With the Dobbs decision, and we really need to be preparing as a community how we will make reproductive justice and reproductive health accessibility happen. And, with limited service crisis pregnancy centers, we need to ensure if they were ever to come into our community that this is about a health care standard, and that we’re really affirming that there is a health care standard. And nobody’s banned them from existing. But we need to make sure that this conversation is happening. Above all, this is about accurate, reliable, and truthful information.

And, when we talk about background checks, CORI checks, SORI checks, we know that anyone who works with minors, and children, disabled, seniors, vulnerable populations, are typically required to have a CORI/SORI check.

So this is just a conversation that no one’s really having yet, and we should be talking about it. And we just need to make sure that limited crisis pregnancy centers are acting in good faith and best intentions. And it’s just a conversation.


“CORI” stands for Criminal Offender Record Information. It’s the state’s criminal background check program. “SORI” stands for Sex Offender Registry Information.”

Another city councilor, Willie Burnley Jr., thanked Strezo for making the proposal.

“I’m glad that our city is trying to be as robust in moving forward progressive policies as possible,” Burnley said.

The city council directed the matter to a subcommittee called the Committee On Equity, Gender, Seniors, Families, and Vulnerable Populations.

Somerville, a city of about 81,000 that borders both Boston and Cambridge, currently has no crisis pregnancy centers, but city councilors have expressed concerns about them in recent months.

In March 2022, Somerville became the first municipality in Massachusetts to ban what it calls “deceptive” statements by a crisis pregnancy center, which the city ordinance calls a “limited service pregnancy center.” Such centers don’t provide abortion or contraception; instead they offer women with problem pregnancies free products such as diapers and formula, and some also provide pregnancy tests and ultrasounds.

Somerville went for Joe Biden over Donald Trump in November 2020 by a margin of 87 to 10 percent. At 77 points, the gap was the sixth largest in Massachusetts, behind Cambridge, Provincetown, Amherst, Pelham, and Aquinnah.


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