Twenty-Three Testified Against Massachusetts Bill Targeting Crisis Pregnancy Centers, None In Favor Of It; Here’s A Transcript

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Editor’s Note:  On Monday, July 24, 2023, the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure held a hearing on several bills, including a bill seeking to ban what it calls “deceptive advertising” by crisis pregnancy centers, which are also known as pregnancy resource centers. (The measures are Massachusetts House Bill 377 and Massachusetts Senate Bill 174.)

Twenty-three supporters of crisis pregnancy centers came to testify against the bill. No one testified in favor of the bill, including the bill’s sponsors.

Transcripts of the witnesses’ testimony are below.  They are based on the video of the hearing posted on the state legislature’s web site.   State Representative Tackey Chan (D-Quincy), the committee’s co-chairman, presided over the hearing.  The transcript below omits procedural comments made by Chan and others; but the transcript includes substantive questions from members of the committee and answers from witnesses.



Kathy Parsons:

Good afternoon, Chairpersons Conan and Chan and honorable members of the committee. I thank you for this opportunity to speak today. My name is Kathy Parsons, a board member of Heartbeat Pregnancy Help Center and a founding member of the Pro-Life Network, who provides financial and material assistance to many PRCs.

I am in opposition to Bill 377 and 174 and see them for what they are, a manufactured smear campaign against our pregnancy resource centers meant to hurt their ability to operate. They engage in blatant viewpoint discrimination and target their constitutionally protected right to free speech while allowing free rein to the abortion clinics. These bills, which label PRCs as deceptive and dangerous to women, could not be more dishonest. Our PRCs have consistently cared for women, children, men and families for decades in our Commonwealth with an impeccable record. Have any of you on the Judiciary Committee visited any of the PRCs in our state?  [Pause]

As this bill would hurt their noble operations, it would be essential that you visit one to see for yourselves and learn the truth of the compassionate care, free and practical material assistance, hope and encouragement they provide to women faced with an unexpected pregnancy. You need to be knowledgeable to prudently weigh in on these bills as our elected officials.

I would like to convey the incredible and outrageous hypocrisy and irony of these bills, as the abortion industry itself was built on deception and lies. For example, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who is known as the abortion king, and the regretful co-founder of NARAL, was responsible for legalizing abortion in the United States. He admitted to using deceptive tactics, false polling, and fabricated facts to deceive the American public on the abortion issue. Dr. Nathanson paid — and NARAL — paid a public relations firm back then to come up with the slogan “My Body, My Choice” to market abortion around choice, not the intentional killing of an unborn child in the womb. They admitted that they knew abortion killed an existing human being. As an abortions medical expert, he also reported that 60 percent of Americans wanted abortion-on-demand legalized.  But he admitted the truth was that only one-tenth of one percent – yes, I did say that correctly, one-tenth of one percent – in the early 1970s wanted abortion-on-demand legalized. The abortion industry has deceived Americans for decades.

Planned Parenthood’s 2021 and 2022 annual report reveals 96.6 percent of pregnancy-related services are directly tied to abortion. These statistics prove, from their own reports, that their false claim of performing many other reproductive services. It sounds like they’re guilty of breaking their own standards regarding deception and misleading the public. And why are they not held accountable? Planned Parenthood is a lucrative industry and one that exploits young scared women, kills their babies, and steals the joy and responsibility of parenthood, leaving women deeply wounded. In contrast, we hear over and over how many women and families are so grateful for the many free services of pregnancy resource centers, as oftentimes it is their only support system.

Millions of women regret their abortion — one more sentence — regret their abortion and lament the loss of their child and so deeply wish they had known of a life-affirming alternative. PRCs have the right to help women and families. Please don’t hurt women and families by harming these vital organizations. I request that you report these bills out as “ought not passed.”

Thank you very much committee. I appreciate the chance to speak.



Myrna Maloney Flynn:

Good afternoon. My name is Myrna Maloney Flynn. I’m the president of Mass. Citizens for Life and the chairman of the Pregnancy Care Alliance of Massachusetts. And I offer three reasons today why this committee should oppose H.377.

First, the bill discriminates against Pregnancy Resource Centers, or PRCs. The requirements and penalties related to this bill apply only to PRCs. Abortion providers offer pregnancy-related services because they exist to end pregnancies. Yet abortion providers are not expected to follow the same measures this bill demands of PRCs. Section 1 states that a PRC user interface must not be, quote, “designed with the effect of impairing user choice.” But, look at the web site published by For Women’s Health in Attleboro. It claims the organization offers, quote “comprehensive health care.”  Yet across the site only abortion is presented to a pregnant user. There is no web copy related to adoption, parenting, or prenatal services.  No choice exists in this user interface, and so the clinic would be in violation of this bill.

Second, the text of this bill is vague and lends itself to highly subjective interpretation. Section 2 relates to alleged deceptive advertising of pregnancy-related services and states that a PRC may not disseminate any statement concerning any pregnancy-related service that is deceptive. But “deceptive” is not defined in this bill. Further, PRCs have not been provided with even one example of so-called deceptive information. So, how are they supposed to follow this law if they don’t know what they are to avoid?

Returning to the poor women’s health example, that web site includes only a partial list of abortion pill side effects and omits data related to serious complications and long-term consequences of chemical abortion. This omission not only deceives women but endangers them.

Third, this bill prohibits free speech. In its misguided aim to prevent false statements, the text muzzles a PRC, particularly its online speech. It is not uncommon for more than half of a PRC’s clients to learn about the center from Internet searches. Word of mouth is the second most common referral source. Members of the Pregnancy Care Alliance receive high satisfaction ratings by their clients. These PRCs have never received a complaint related to deceptive advertising. What they have received are thousands of grateful women who found them via online searches in time to obtain free help and sincere support when they needed it most. PRCs use contemporary and responsible marketing strategies that all reputable organizations use. It would be unconstitutional for the state to practice this clear form of censorship.

Like each of you, Mass. Citizens for Life believes our women deserve the best possible care. But this bill is not the way to provide it. Therefore, I encourage you to oppose this legislation.  Thank you.



Patricia Stewart:

Good afternoon, Chairman and Committee members. I am Patricia Stewart, Executive Director of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, and I oppose House 377, Senate 174.

On April 11th this year, I requested public records from the office of the Massachusetts Attorney General that, quote, “reflect or refer to complaints, accusations, dissatisfactions, or other concerns at any time” against any of 41 identified pregnancy resource centers in Massachusetts. On May 1st, I received the AGO’s response, stating the record she was providing, quote, “encompass all of the complaints received by the AGO as of April 14th, 2023,” the date she received my request. These records consisted of four consumer complaints, with redacted dates, against three named PRCs, and one third-party complaint, by the date of 2017, against one of the same three PRCs from a Washington D.C. group whose web site promotes a Planned Parenthood blog. Notably absent were any records evidencing action taken by the AGO in response to these complaints.

PRCs have been serving needy pregnant women in Massachusetts for some 39 years. In 2022 alone, they served 2,079 clients. In 39 years, they have served many thousands more. Four consumer complaints in 39 years attest the extraordinary safety record and client satisfaction with PRC policies and procedures. Four consumer complaints in 39 years give the lie to the pretext of presumed deception and unsafe practices that underlay House 377.

In addition, this bill is facially unconstitutional. A due process principle deems a law void for vagueness if its prohibitions are not clearly defined. It demands that laws give the person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited. This bill does not define the prohibited statement that is deceptive by statement or omission. Webster’s Dictionary defines “deceptive” as “tending or having the power to deceive, misleading.”  Would a PRC advertisement that omits driving directions be considered deceptive to someone with no GPS who got lost? Or would omission of a closed-on-Sunday notice be deemed to have deceived someone who visited a PRC on a Sunday? With no defining parameters, the opportunities to offend are unknowable and, therefore, unconstitutional.

I submit this bill is not about protecting women’s health. It’s about protecting abortion providers’ profits from their only competition in Massachusetts. I respectfully request they receive an unfavorable report.



State Representative Joseph McKenna (R-Webster):

Thank you very much for your testimony. Do either of you have information as to number of people who have either called, visited, emailed, or otherwise reached out to a PRC seeking abortion services specifically?  And obviously, PRCs don’t provide that.


Patricia Stewart:

I would have to defer to the PRC leaders to know what their records indicate, what they have on their files.  I’m sure they’d be willing to make something available if requested.


Michael King:

My name is Mike King from Massachusetts Family Institute, speaking today in opposition to HB 377 and SB 174.

At a Worcester City Council meeting on July 18th, 2023, just recently, the city solicitor and city manager both explained that the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office is recommending that cities and towns refrain from passing any of these ordinances that would fine pregnancy resource centers for false advertising practices. The Worcester city solicitor referenced the NIFLA case out of California as well as the recent case in Connecticut, where the Connecticut AG championed the ordinance. However, after the ordinance was legally challenged, the case was eventually dropped, because the Connecticut AG mentioned Connecticut would not enforce the ordinance.

The Worcester city solicitor also mentioned at this July 18th meeting that the ordinance compels pregnancy resource centers to speak in a certain way regarding abortion. That if they don’t offer the service, they would be required to refer it to someone else that does. He mentioned concern that this kind of compelled speech in these two bills we’re talking about today is unconstitutional and would put Worcester in legal hot water.

Recently the Easthampton City Council voted to pass a similar ordinance to these bills that would fine pregnancy resource centers for so-called false advertising practices. Now, the Easthampton mayor, who is no pro-life champion, decided to use her veto for the first time since being elected in 2017. She must have been convinced of the legal liability of such an ordinance to use her veto for the first time — on a life issue, of all things.

Again, recently the Framingham City Council tried to pass a similar ordinance. I’m sure to their surprise, pro-life advocates outnumbered the pro-abortion advocates at the city council meetings. Again, the city council became convinced that such an ordinance should not be passed in Framingham. They ultimately decided to virtue signal and pass a proclamation that only defames pregnancy resource centers and has no enforcement teeth to it.

At the meeting to pass the proclamation, Michael Hugo, chair of the Democrat committee in Framingham, stated that crisis pregnancy centers could misdiagnose a defect in a baby in the womb, leading them to being born and becoming a strain on a school budget. After this gross statement regarding human dignity, more and more people are waking up that would never have joined this fight for life and free speech.

Even in Easthampton, a city councilor was curious why pregnancy resource centers are not locally funded like Planned Parenthood clinics are.

The continued attacks on pregnancy resource centers will only garner more support for them. One lady in Framingham, for example, mentioned that she never came to city council meetings, but due to the outrageous discrimination she came out and now wants to start another pregnancy resource center in Framingham just in response to the injustice shown to them through these ordinances.

Please join me in opposing HB 377 and SB 174. Thanks so much.



Sam Whiting:

Good afternoon. Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. My name is Sam Whiting and I’m an attorney with Massachusetts Family Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening the family in Massachusetts. I’m here to speak in opposition to HB 377 and SB 174, two bills which would target pro-life pregnancy resource centers for disfavored treatment because they do not perform abortions.

If passed, these bills would be unconstitutional and would likely be struck down in court. I will briefly cover just two of the serious constitutional issues with these bills. First, as others have mentioned, they are hopelessly vague. They would ban deceptive statements by pro-life pregnancy resource centers without even defining what type of statements are deceptive. This will allow the bills to be enforced arbitrarily against pro-life centers and will leave the centers guessing as to what types of statements are and are not allowed.

It’s hard to see this as an oversight. Fakeness and confusion seem to be intentionally baked into these bills. The likely intent of this legislation is to require pro-life centers to walk on eggshells every time they speak about pregnancy services because their religious and social beliefs about abortion are disfavored. It seems clear that these bills are designed to chill the free speech of the centers.

Second, the bills unconstitutionally censor speech, but only when that speech expresses a pro-life viewpoint. The bills apply only to clinics that do not provide or refer for abortions and emergency contraception. They do not apply to abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood. This shows that the bills are not about preventing deception by pregnancy services providers. They’re about shutting down pro-life speech. They are a thinly veiled attack on charitable pro-life organizations and the excellent work that they do in their communities.

As the Supreme Court recently held with regard to a California law that targeted pro-life centers in the case of NIFLA versus Becerra, this type of targeted attack on free speech clearly violates the First Amendment. The New Boston Post recently reported that because of these types of glaring legal issues, the Attorney General’s office has been confidentially advising municipalities in the Commonwealth not to pass local ordinances targeting pregnancy resources. I urge you to follow the Attorney General’s guidance and reject these bills.



State Representative Joseph McKenna (R-Webster):

Yeah, thank you very much. Same question that I asked the previous [speakers]:  Do you have any knowledge or information of individuals who have gone to a PRC seeking specifically an abortion service? Because to me it seems that the bill would also be targeted at PRCs for this problem of individuals seeking abortion services, that frankly I don’t know whether that problem exists.



Sam Whiting:

Well, I think it’s a fair question. While we don’t have clear data on how many women are calling in expecting to get abortion services, anyone can go to these providers’ web sites and see that it’s very clear that, you know, abortion is not among the services that they list on their website. Many of them also have clear disclaimers – “We do not provide or for abortions at this site.”

But on top of that I think this bill isn’t just about targeting so-called deceptive advertising, which is what the proponents seem to say that it’s about. But I also think the way that the language is written, it’s broad enough and big enough that it would actually apply to any statement about pregnancy-related services, which means that if a pro-life center said something like, you know, abortion could cause mental health issues” or “the abortion pill is not 100 percent safe,” they might be fined even for saying something like that, that the Attorney General’s office deems deceptive.

So, you know, people of good faith have different opinions on abortion across the political spectrum, but no one should be punished for having an opinion about these very contentious, very important issues.



Mia McDonald:

Thank you for your time and letting me testify. My name is Mia McDonald. I’m from Worcester, Massachusetts. When I was 21 years old, I was single. I was still in school, and I was pregnant. I went to Planned Parenthood in Worcester looking for resources. I was offered nothing but an appointment and encouragement to abort my baby. I chose to keep my son, so I walked across the street to Problem Pregnancy. There, they helped me sign up for MassHealth and WIC. They helped me find a doctor, and they later provided me with diapers, formula, and clothes. Problem Pregnancy supported my choice [pause], and I was able to keep my son. I couldn’t have without them.

Problem Pregnancy continues to support women and children in Worcester today. I urge you to visit Problem Pregnancy. Visit — located at 495 Pleasant Street in Worcester. There is a sign on the door that they do not offer abortion services and that they are not a medical facility. There are no deceptive practices. And just like all other businesses and charities, they will be subject to existing state laws regarding deceptive practices. Creating a new law targeting just pregnancy resource centers is redundant and unconstitutional. Subjecting these resource centers to additional scrutiny, and opening them to attack from opposition, would hurt women and children in Worcester and in Massachusetts.

Because they do not offer abortion, Problem Pregnancy was the victim of a malicious attack within the past year that vandalized the building. This diverted funds, time, and energy from supporting women and children in Worcester. Do not give their opponents more tools to hurt women and children in Massachusetts. These centers are and should continue to be held to the same standards and laws prohibiting deceptive practices, but not offering abortion is not a form of deception. I urge you to remove the politics from this and protect one of our most vulnerable populations — women and children — by protecting the right to choose to keep their babies and get support services. Thank you.


Diane O’Toole:

I’m Diane O’Toole. I’m the executive director of the Boston Center for Pregnancy Choices. We are a pregnancy resource center in downtown Boston.

I’m the former executive director for the American Nurses Association of Massachusetts, and a former past president of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts. Currently I serve as the treasurer of the Mass. Health Council.

I am as concerned for the women of Massachusetts as you are. As past president of the American Nurses Association of Massachusetts, I am very aware of the need to keep patient information private. Confidentiality is the standard for best practices in the medical and social services industries. I agree that it is unethical to violate patient privacy, and that is why the Boston Center for Pregnancy Choices, we are diligent in protecting our client information and their confidentiality, and we adhere to HIPAA guidelines. We also abide by all of the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth.

We have previously reached out to every single one of the legislators at the State House. We did a blanket of information drop, and invited them to tour our center and other centers, and none have yet accepted, and that was in May. The language in the bill that states “deceptive whether by statement or omission” advertising practices has not yet been clearly defined. Make no mistake, we do provide factual, educational, medically reviewed information about the various types of abortions. We also provide after-abortion healing counseling services. Thus, it is reasonable that we would come up in a Google search on abortion.

At the Boston Center, we create a safe space where women and men can think through all of their options and make the right decision for themselves.

I was once a teen-ager with an unplanned pregnancy. I wish that I had the opportunity to come to a resource center such as the Boston Center. A hundred percent of our clients report they would refer us to a friend, and we have a 99 percent satisfaction rate that has been consistent in the past three years since I’ve been the executive director.

Our center has the support of over 40 churches in the Boston area and surrounding area, including Park Street, the Chinese Church of Boston, and others.

I really believe that pregnancy resource centers are unfairly targeted, and I urge you not to report out this bill.



Analia Valverde:

Buenas tardes. Mi nombre es Analia Valverde. Good afternoon.

My name is Analia Valverde. I’m a professionally trained counselor at the Boston Center for Pregnancy Choices. I am here to briefly share how we care for women and men alike at our center. We have multilingual counselors from accredited institutions, and staff and volunteers who live, work, and serve in our beloved city. We believe in caring for individuals. Those who have faced trauma, are marginalized, and do not have the means to pay for these services. For this reason, all of our services are free.

Many come in feeling alone and afraid. We seek to meet the needs of the whole person as part of the safety net of counseling and referral services we provide to clients. We provide counseling and support for women, whether they choose to carry or abort, and after-care for those who choose to abort, if they need additional care and support and are grieving.

If a client shares that they wish to have an abortion, I provide the facts concerning their options — medical and surgical. In this way, I foster client autonomy in their decision-making process. We provide an extensive list of services and referrals for clients, including mentorship, material resource aid, and after-abortion-clients counseling and support groups. We also offer insurance, housing, shelter, domestic violence information, to name a few of the services we provide.

I have had clients say to me, can you become my counselor? I ask them, do you have insurance here with health benefits, for mental health benefits? And if they tell me they do, I have to refer them to another location to get services, because I can’t take care of all of our clients for ongoing counseling.

A large percentage of clients share that they have found our center to be a safe haven, a non-judgmental, confidential place to discuss all of their options. Women have shared that they were unable to receive help when wishing to keep their pregnancies at other organizations they visited. They were only provided one option — abortion. This is why they may have chose to come to us.

We seek to provide a standard of care that promotes dignity and respect. Our desire is to safeguard their autonomy. For best practices, we require our clients to sign consent forms if any information is to be shared. We house our files behind two locked doors and have a HIPAA-compliant database. We adhere to the ethical codes of the ACA, the AMHCA, and the Board of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professions. What this means is that we maintain a high standard of conduct concerning promoting our clients’ welfare and maintaining the client-therapist relationship of confidentiality and trust.

For this reason, we urge you to oppose this bill, and stand on behalf of the clients we represent.


Representative David LeBoeuf (D-Worcester):

Could you describe what are the credentials that your counselors have? And, you know, because I know — and I’m also curious about the comment you made, you have to refer them and they have insurance. What’s the rationale behind that?


Analia Valverde:

So we only have a limited amount of counselors at our site. And because we are funded by donors, and so as such we have to refer them out — if they already have mental health insurance, I refer them to their own insurance places to go find additional — if they want to have ongoing support for, like, continued counseling for a long-term service.


Diane O’Toole:

We have limited resources.


Representative David LeBoeuf (D-Worcester):

So what are the credentials of the counselors?


Analia Valverde:

So our credentials, we are all licensed — well, actually, many of us are either graduated or in internship or already graduated and licensed. I graduated in May. So we cannot actually obtain our license for two years after we graduate, according to state guidelines, because we have to continue on with supervision, continue on with hours of direct client service. So that’s a state requirement. I will be licensed, I’ve graduated with my counseling degree, my master’s in counseling, but I will not be licensed for two years.


Diane O’Toole:

So our counselors —


State Representative Tackey Chan (D-Quincy, committee co-chairman):

Sorry, can you use the microphone?  Because the Internet world can’t hear you.


Diane O’Toole:

So they either have their master’s degree in clinical counseling or Ph.D., which Lindsey has.


Analia Valverde:

And we have another counselor who is licensed, as well.


State Representative Tackey Chan (D-Quincy, committee co-chairman):

Any other questions from members of the committee?


State Representative Joseph McKenna (R-Webster):

If you’ve got an answer to the previous question, by all means, yeah.


State Representative Tackey Chan (D-Quincy, committee co-chairman):

All right, well, just to review, Representative [name garbled] questions regarding whether or not these centers maintain records of people who are seeking abortions.  Is that correct?


State Representative Joseph McKenna (R-Webster):

Yeah. Does anyone, do you have any information on people going to a PRC seeking an abortion specifically?


Diane O’Toole:

We do get calls. We don’t keep a record of those calls. We keep a record of clients coming in and notes on clients coming in. If somebody calls and wants an abortion, we tell them that we do not provide abortions at our center or refer to them.  If they come in — I mean, if they call and say, you know, “I think I’m pregnant, I think I might want abortion,” we’ll say, well, first find out if you’re pregnant. Come in and get a free pregnancy test, and then, you know, it depends. They have options — we provide options counseling like Ana was saying, and then they make decision on what they want to do.


Analia Valverde:

And I would also add to that that I always tell them you can go right to Google. You will find right away the services for abortion. It’s number one. I said you’ll find it right away, the services that you will need to obtain an abortion.

Representative David LeBoeuf (D-Worcester):

All right, so you said about the the free pregnancy test. So do you have any licensed medical professionals that are providing other forms of prenatal care then during the rest of the –?


Diane O’Toole

So we currently at the Boston Center we are not medical. We are a counseling center. The free pregnancy tests are self-administered. We have been medical in the past. At our current location, we are not, although it’s licensed for medical. And we hope to be able to perform on-site ultrasounds at some time. Right now, we refer out for ultrasounds to Your Options medical and other pregnancy resource centers that have physician oversight. Yeah. And are actually medical facilities.


Debbie Dugan:

My name is Debbie Dugan and I’m very happy to be out of that seat. I got a little stiff.

I am a Republican State Committeewoman.  I represent the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District, and I want to thank you, Chairman Chan, for this opportunity, and the committee, to come here and speak to you about these bills. I stand – I sit in opposition to them, House Bill 377 and Senate Bill 174.

I have done a lot of volunteering in crisis pregnancy centers. I started out in New Jersey in 2001. Prior to that, I had been a school committee member. I served a total of 23 years over the course of 12 years. I served on two elected boards and one appointed board.

When I started volunteering in the crisis pregnancy center, they wanted me to take an abortion recovery class in order to be able to work with clients. I had two abortions, one at the age of 18 and one at the age of 19.

I was married for a total of 26 years before I ever told my husband about the shame and the guilt that I carried.  [Pause]  I attended a course called “Forgiven and Set Free.” Even though as a born-again Christian at that point in time, I could forgive others, but I could not forgive myself. I needed this program to get to that point. I have since led and co-led these programs, this very same program, and I, as and along with my counselor, the counselor — I am not a counselor, I’m a volunteer, but I worked with a therapist. We have brought many women to the same place that I have come to in my life:  the ability to forgive ourselves.

When we meet with clients for the first time at crisis pregnancy centers, we give them what we call options counseling. We talk about parenting.  We talk about adoption. And we talk about abortion.

You see, while abortion is promised as an escape from a crisis pregnancy, what comes are shame and guilt. I would imagine that one of you here today —  sorry I’m not watching my clock —  that one of you here today has somehow been involved in an abortion, be it you fathered a child, maybe a sibling found out that she was pregnant, you could have had a child yourself that found out that they were in a crisis pregnancy situation. And whether we think or know it’s wrong at the time, we do come to a point in life where we realize that it was wrong. It was murdering an unborn child.  [Pause]

I stand very, very strongly in opposition to censoring pro-life pregnancy centers. Last year I testified in Cambridge when they were considering they wanted to do this. They did eventually do this. At the end of the testimonies, the council had some discussions. They asked their chief legal adviser to read her statement. She kind of danced around it. She had done a study, and was making a recommendation to the committee. And she kind of danced around it and was saying, well, maybe we could, you know, talk about this, you know, next time, something. They wanted, no, they said, oh, no, read it. So she did read it. And she told them this is a violation of the First Amendment. To which their reply was, we’re going to talk to Somerville and see what they did.

Ladies and gentlemen, you do not want to do this. And when I came up the stairs today or came down the stairs, I was reminded by the many thousands and thousands of people who have passed through this building over decades. And we want to do what’s right here in Massachusetts. We want to protect life. We want to protect the First Amendment.

Thank you very much for your time.



Caroline Colarusso:

I don’t know how to follow those remarks from Debbie Dugan, who is a colleague of mine. I am also a Republican state committeewoman. My name is Caroline Colarusso. I am a former candidate for Congress, and I am also a former two-term selectwoman in the town of Stoneham. And I stand here today in opposition of the gag rule against pregnancy resource centers, H.377, S.174, primarily because of a few reasons.

One, it’s discriminatory in nature. Two, it restricts free speech. It’s very exclusionary, and it denies due process and equal access in the marketplace to pregnancy resource centers. It will hinder the ability to fully function and give women the services that they so deserve when facing an unplanned pregnancy. It will diminish free speech and it will force PRCs out of the marketplace.

And I want to highlight in my testimony today a different perspective, one that comes from a local elected official. And I want to compel each member of the committee to please consider this when weighing in on this potential law.

This bill will likely face legal hurdles. And in Boston, we just had two similar cases. One was the flagpole at City Hall, which was an equal-access, that the Supreme Court unanimously rejected. The second one was a case that actually had to do with abortion. It was McCullough versus Coakley, where the 35-foot buffer zone was deemed unconstitutional — unanimously in both instances by the Supreme Court of the United States. And I want you to consider this, as I did when I governed locally. This is likely to have legal challenges, likely to cost you money to defend, and also you must consider the charges that are reimbursable to the moving party that decides to take this to court. And make no mistake, the people of Massachusetts will not stand for this. They will ensure that this goes through the legal process. So I would ask you to weigh those factors today, which are legal factors, but certainly weigh into your decision making.

This bill, I know — I have family and friends that have benefited from the services of pregnancy resource centers. My daughter-in-law, who is expecting, volunteers at a pregnancy resource centers. They’ve helped so many women. Please consider the factors that I’ve mentioned today. Please consider the good work that these pregnancy resources centers do.

And lastly, I am a Christian woman and a human rights activist. And I appeal to your human side and to let these organizations fully operate as a service to women in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Thank you, Chairman Chan, and thank you, committee members.



Robert Joyce:

Good afternoon, Chairman, Chairwomen, and members of the committee. My name is Robert Joyce. I’ve been practicing law for over 47 years in Massachusetts, always in good standing. I oppose these bills.  And I’ve submitted written testimony in support of the opposition.

I want to address four vital, interrelated topics, with respect to these bills:  Deceit, truth, science, and courage.

Deceit has been in this life controversy since well before Roe v. Wade in 1973. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a co-founder of NARAL in 1969, and once known as America’s abortion king, having been responsible for more than 75,000 abortions, confessed to intentionally deceiving America before newly developed ultrasound technology convinced him that abortion kills a human being. His dying testimony was:  teach the strategy of how I deceived America, but also deliver this special message. Tell America that the co-founder of NARAL says to love one another. Abortion is not love. The world needs more love. I am all about love now.

Now I suggest that if Babe Ruth were to talk to you about baseball, you would listen. And I suggest that when the Abortion King speaks to you about abortion, you should listen. Truth requires public courage and faith. Courage to determine and defend the truth, whether it be comforting or disturbing, and faith that lawmakers will treat the truth fairly. Scientific truth tells us that the human embryo is 100 percent human, already fully programmed in need of no tweaking, already a complete, though immature, human being, just like all of you were, and your children, and your grandchildren, and everyone in the whole world.

Now courage faces vehement opposition when it confronts unpopular truth. But you, as courageous lawmakers, are duty-bound to defend the truth resolutely, even to risk your reputation for the sake of right. To be unadulterated by any concern about personal ambition, and to be willing to suffer wrong rather than to do wrong.

That’s what pregnancy care centers do every day. They courageously oppose deception with truth and science and love. Please do not let your constituents be deceived by these bills. These people are heroes, not villains. Please vote these bills as ought not to pass.


Richard Florentine:

O.K., thank you for allowing me to testify. My name is Dr. Richard Florentine. I am a board-certified, I’m board certified in internal medicine, and am currently retired. I am speaking in opposition to this bill as an individual, to Bill H.377.

During a recent Mass. Medical Society meeting, a group of senior physicians proposed a resolution to request a statement of support for the health care workers who had recently been traumatically affected by violent attacks at several pregnancy resource centers in Massachusetts. During this period of debate, these senior physicians were concerned that many disparaging statements were being made about these attacked centers. At our meetings, we learned that none of the criticizing physicians and none of our criticizing political representatives had actually visited to see firsthand what was going on in these violently attacked centers.

Each of the physicians decided to visit one of these Massachusetts attacked centers. I visited Your Options Medical Clinic in Revere. While these centers vary in the kind of services they provide, I found that this pregnancy resource center in Revere was run, was being run according to the Mass. Department of Public Health certificate with every-two-year inspection. There was a board-certified medical director, a hospital-credentialed radiologist reading patient ultrasounds, and an up-to-date and inspected medical equipment. There were appropriate informed consent forms confirming for the patients that the clinic did not refer for abortions nor provide for medical abortions. Patients were informed when they called the clinic of this policy and were required to sign a consent form before receiving any services at the clinic. There was no evidence of deception involved in this protocol, as consent was fully informed.

Due to the pro-life mission of the clinic, and the 2018 Supreme Court decision striking down a California law restricting the free speech of pregnancy centers, the clinic does not refer nor advertise for abortion. The protocol indicated that no medical services were offered at the clinic, but a free pregnancy test, free STD testing, and a free ultrasound by a trained nurse ultrasound stenographer were offered to determine the age of the patient’s pregnancy. The patients were also offered an opportunity to see the ultrasound if so desired. A review and report were provided by a hospital-credentialed radiologist to each patient to inform the patient of the pregnancy’s dates, and to inform the patient of the current FDA recommendations regarding the 11-week limit for safe medical abortions. The patients were also offered free counseling by a registered nurse on-site about all of the supportive services that were available from the clinic free of charge.

These services offered correction of many of these disadvantaged patients’ poor social determinants of health. In doing so, they rendered the patient freer to make a fully informed and supported decision about the pregnancy. Thus, the clinic offered free assistance with health insurance applications, help with housing, educational assistance, clothing, baby supplies, and ongoing social support.

Describing these very helpful centers in such a negative — in such negative terms as this bill does — especially as this clinic serves some of the most vulnerable in their communities — is a disservice in a form of political bullying that should not be encouraged by law. I urge you to oppose this politically motivated legislation.



Josh [last name unclear]:

So I oppose this bill, and I’d like to start by requesting that you guys humor me in a hypothetical situation. I really liked your introduction when we started today, but imagine for me, if you will, that when Chairman Chan got up, he said, today we’re going to implement a rule that says everyone who testifies today must be honest, unless they’re wearing a red shirt.

Everyone would go, why? Why should we limit honesty to just one thing, and specifically exclude one thing? And then the next logical conclusion would be everyone’s going to start being suspicious of everyone wearing a red shirt. As they should be.

I start by saying that because that’s exactly what Section 2 of H.377 and S.174 does. Section 1 defines, in long detail, what a pregnancy service center is. But it also gives a very small definition of what a limited service pregnancy center is, and that is any pregnancy service center that does not perform abortions or provide emergency contraceptives. So essentially the layman’s terms’ definition of Section 2 is:  Pregnancy service centers must be honest in their advertising unless they provide abortions or emergency contraceptives. So the next logical conclusion for anyone reading that is:  why should we trust the ones that do provide abortions and emergency contraceptives? It was clearly excluding them for a reason. What reason could that be other than they’re planning on lying to us?  I don’t see why we should trust them in that.

So what I say is I have a challenge for you. If this bill is truly about preventing deceptive advertising, then change it to say “pregnancy service centers cannot advertise falsely.” And thus it covers everyone across the board.

But I don’t think you’re going to do that, because I don’t believe that this is about preventing deceptive advertising. This is about preventing pro-life advertising. And if it’s not, then change it. This is just meant to be a weapon that pro-choice advocates can beat pro-life service centers with.

Thank you for hearing my testimony.


Florence [last name unclear]:

O.K., so good afternoon everybody, the House of Representatives. My name is Florence and I’m from Deliverance To Service Ministries. I oppose H.377.

I was born in Uganda, East Africa, and I now live in America. God bless America. I’m here today to strongly advocate for the ability of the pregnancy crisis centers to be able to assist women freely without restriction. If the state can dictate what pregnancy crisis centers can say to women who desperately enter the facility looking for help, then this is not the America that I traveled so far to come to for help.

I’m a woman who has had a number of abortions in my life. I’m not proud of it, and I have suffered its consequences. I wish there were pregnancy centers, resource centers, in my country, which is Uganda. I could have turned to them for help, which could have supported my pregnancies. There were none. I would go through all this torture alone. I was young. I needed help, which was not available.  I only had threats from my father, because I got pregnant when I was young.  And if we had such resources, my life would be different. I was all alone and I needed help and nobody could help me.

So in the Bible, Jeremiah chapter 1 verse 5, says that, “I formed you in your mother’s womb. I knew you before you were born, and I sanctified you and I ordained you to be a prophet.” So all those kids, a number which is like five, I murdered them because I didn’t know better.

And so now I’m here in America, and I see it’s, you know, it’s they want to support. What are you doing today? You want government to restrict what pregnancy centers can say to these desperate young American girls who are in need for help? As a Ugandan-American, I ask you to respect the very first amendment in your constitution, which allows for freedom of speech, especially when it comes to helping young women and old women when they encounter unplanned pregnancies.

If resource centers were available to me, I would have maybe my children with me enjoying life. Now, who are already, you know, dead. So, I thank the Lord Jesus Christ because he met me and he forgave me. And now I feel free for God, because before I was kind of blaming myself for that.

Please allow pregnancy resource centers to do their job fully without any restrictions. So I oppose this bill.  Thank you so much.



Anna Higgins:

Thank you, Mr. Chair and Chairwoman and committee members for allowing us this opportunity. My name is Anna Higgins. I’m a scholar, associate scholar with Charlotte Lozier Institute. I also have over a decade of public policy experience, mostly on social issues on the federal and state level, as well as years of experience in constitutional legal analysis. And I’m here to respectfully request that you decide to vote unfavorably on this legislation, because it’s going to be detrimental to women, to children, and to the best interests of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

As you’ve already heard, the purpose of the bill, and the content of the bill, necessarily invokes some serious constitutional concerns, particularly related to free speech. Among other issues such as potentially compelling speech and viewpoint discrimination, you are likely to face challenges if this bill were to be passed on vagueness issues, because of the term “deceptive” in the bill is not defined to the extent that it would satisfy constitutional muster, which would be that a person of ordinary intelligence has a reasonable opportunity to know what conduct is actually prohibited.

Additionally, because this bill is not limited to false advertisement alone, it kind of paints with a broad brush across all levels of constitutionally protected speech for these pregnancy resource centers, you’re likely to face challenges for overbreadth, and unlikely to prevail, in my opinion, on that.

And on a personal note, I have spent over a decade as well as a volunteer for pregnancy resource centers, and as a board attorney for pregnancy resource centers, and frankly it’s a bad policy for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts not to support organizations that provide at no cost to the Commonwealth services that are desperately needed.  And other states, such as Florida, have actually put into their budget funds for pregnancy resource centers because there’s such a tremendous cost savings to the state, and they provide much-needed, as you’ve already heard, support materially and mentally for women who are in need.

So I thank you for your time and consideration, and ask that you report unfavorably on this bill. Thank you.



Ingrid Skop:

Good afternoon, Chair and members of the committee. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

I’m the vice president of medical affairs of the Charlotte Lozier Institute as well as a board-certified obstetrician practicing in Texas for over 30 years.

Despite this legislation’s definition of limited services pregnancy center as a medical center that does not provide abortion, a more general understanding of the term “limited” would assume that it refers to a medical center in which some but not all pregnancy-related services are offered. Is a medical center required to offer all available medical procedures? Like approximately 90 percent of practicing obstetrician-gynecologists, neither I nor my 20 partners performed elective abortions. Would it benefit women to similarly target the doctors who deliver babies?

Based on this more general definition, Planned Parenthood is also a limited pregnancy services center, as its annual report, year after year, documents that 96 to 97 percent of its pregnancy outcome services are elective abortions. In a perfect world, every medical center would offer impartial counseling of the risk, benefits, and alternatives of every pregnancy option. But in a perfect world, electively ending unborn human life would not take place. Because Planned Parenthood does not offer impartial alternatives counseling, other options must be available to women in crisis.

Actively suppressing the knowledge of options that can support a woman who desires to give birth to her child is an anti-choice action. Pregnancy help centers targeted by this legislation exist to provide counseling regarding other pregnancy options, some medical testing, and emotional, material, and sometimes financial support, usually free of charge, to women in crisis pregnancies.

Recent studies document that 24 percent of women describe their abortion as unwanted or coerced. And an additional 43 percent described it as inconsistent with their values. Sixty percent would have preferred to give birth if they had received more support or had more financial security. Sixty-one percent reported high levels of pressure from finances, circumstances, and other people. And these pressured women reported more negative emotions — frequent thoughts, dreams, or flashbacks to the abortion, frequent feelings of loss, grief or sadness, and a decline in overall mental health that they attributed to the abortion.

I think we should trust these women, don’t you?

If we truly care for women, we should not deny them access to resources to make the choice most really want to make:  giving birth to their children.

Thank you for your time.


Amanda Stirone Mansfield:

Good afternoon, Chairman and members of the committee. Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony on House Bill Number 377 and Senate Bill Number 174.  As I said, my name is Amanda Stirone Mansfield. I’m an attorney and legal researcher currently working as an associate scholar with the Charlotte Lozier Institute in Washington D.C..

This vague restriction would chill the protected speech of pregnancy resource centers, who must avoid advertising or risk triggering the unclear law. There are no definitions or findings that would allow a person of ordinary intelligence to know exactly what actions are prescribed. The proposed statute’s language adds that these statements or omissions may be disseminated, quote, “In any manner including but not limited to the internet.” End quote. This means workers or volunteers who share an Instagram story or retweet something that enforcement agents might arbitrarily consider deceptive would be subjecting pregnancy resource centers to punishment. 

The Supreme Court held in NIFLA versus Becerra that the state could not compel speech of pregnancy resource centers that violated their sincerely held beliefs. By penalizing allegedly deceptive omissions, Massachusetts would be requiring pregnancy resource centers to make public statements that could violate their sincerely held beliefs or risk punishment by the state. In other words, this proposed statute requires unconstitutional compelled speech to avoid penalization.

By regulating pregnancy-related speech of only pro-life pregnancy resource centers, the state of Massachusetts would violate both the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and be engaging in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination. In addition to clearly being unconstitutional, if this bill’s goal is to support and help women facing unplanned pregnancies, it would have the opposite effect. For these reasons, and those outlined by my colleagues, I respectfully oppose the passage of this bill, and would urge you to vote against it today.  Thank you.



Colby Mazzarella:

Good afternoon, chairpersons, vice chairpersons, and honorable members of the committee. My name is Colby Mazzarella. I’m a Massachusetts attorney and president of the Pro-Life Legal Defense Fund, testifying in opposition to H.377 and S.174.

For several Supreme Court amicus briefs, I interviewed women who had abortions or considered abortion, and who wished to speak in support of pro-life counselors, because they provide vital information which these women could not find anywhere else. 

Dr. Alveda King, a niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, testified, quote:  “I wish that I had received more information about abortion prior to my decision. I never would have had an abortion.” 

Miss Susanna Brennan recalls clinic staff, quote, “in an authoritarian way, telling me in no way could I afford a baby. There was no other information given to me at all, nothing about getting financial and other assistance.” She testified that they presented abortion as if there was no other choice. 

Ms. Molly White had two abortions. She asked the clinic staff about the risks of abortion but was told there was no risk of physical complications. Quote:  “My abortion caused continual bleeding, a damaged cervix, and uterine scarring, which led to two stillborn children and a miscarriage.” She states that if someone had given her full information, quote:  “I would have decided against abortion.” 

Ms. Esther Ripplinger asked the clinic staff about the baby’s stage of development, and was told it’s only a blob of tissue. She later learned that her baby at that stage had hands, feet, and a beating heart. She said, quote:  “If someone had given me information and alternatives, I would not have made this choice.” 

Ms. Magdalena Castro, a pseudonym, testified, quote:  “I didn’t know anything about abortion. I thought I had to have an abortion because the baby’s father told me I couldn’t afford a baby.” After a pro-life counselor gave her a free ultrasound and she saw her baby’s heartbeat, she said, quote:  “I felt so happy and decided to keep the baby.” She testified, quote:  “It would be very, very sad if a person like me could not get this information.” 

The best chance for anyone to make any decision is to have information from various viewpoints. On behalf of these women, and all women looking for all viewpoints on abortion, I urge you to report these bills as ought not to pass. Thank you.



Brandon Shank

Thank you, Chairman and Committee. My name is Brandon. I’m in opposition of Bill H.377 and Bill S.174. I’m just a regular guy. 

So what is the definition of deceptive? It’s giving an appearance or impression different from the true one; it’s misleading. At four weeks, a baby’s heart is circulating blood and can be heard beating. An abortion procedure goes like this:  Up to seven weeks, the baby is sucked out of the uterus using a vacuum. At six to fourteen weeks, the baby is larger. The doctor uses a large-shaped knife called a curette to scrape the baby apart to suck up all the pieces. At thirteen to twenty-four weeks, the baby is much larger, and the skull needs to be crushed for easy removal. The baby is then pulled apart with forceps and sucked out. Twenty weeks to full term, the baby is now so large that a tube is forced into the skull of the baby, and the brain is sucked out. The skull is then crushed, the baby is then pulled out apart piece by piece until it’s finished. 

What is so deceptive about what I said? If a pregnancy center calls abortion the death of a child, is that deceptive? Who are you or anyone else to determine what the truth is? Jesus Christ is the only one who has the authority to determine what is right and true. God tells us that a human life is created at conception. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I sanctified you.” If you are trying to censor the Pregnancy Resource Center by telling us that we cannot call a baby a baby at conception, it is discriminating against our religious rights and constitutional rights. Please don’t punish a PRC for wanting to tell people the truth.

Why censor a place like Care Net that chooses to save babies, but agree with the Planned Parenthoods who are tearing apart babies as their hearts beat? Anyone who is willing to support this bill to censor a pregnancy resource center is making the decision to stand before a perfect God and be judged for such evil. By supporting this bill, you are consenting to the murdering of innocent children. God will judge you for the choice you’ll soon make. When you stand before God, there will be no opportunity to ask for forgiveness. All the power that you have will be torn from you violently, like the way God’s children are torn apart in an abortion. I plead with you guys to make the right choice. 

This is a one opportunity. The choices that you have made in the past don’t matter right now. And I’m just pleading with you guys to do what is right here. These are real children. These are real babies. We know as soon as the sperm hits the egg, a life is created. This is our one choice.

I’m a regular man, and I’m passionate about what I believe in. There’s only one truth; Jesus says it. “I’m the way and the truth and the life, no one gets to the Father except through me.” And God tells us that these are his children, he loves his children. I’m pleading with you guys to please make the right choice. You can turn back from the choices you’ve made; it’s O.K., God will forgive you. But today is a day to stand and change your ways if you’re going for this bill. Turn away from this bill, please. Thank you for the opportunity.



Ashley Leenerts:

Thank you very much.

Good afternoon, Chairman and members of the committee. My name is Ashley Leenerts, and I serve as a legislative associate for Texas Right to Life, and would like to speak in opposition to House Bill 377 and Senate Bill 174, which seek to unjustly restrict the freedom of speech of pregnancy resource centers, or PRCs, to the detriment of women needing crisis pregnancy assistance.

Women facing crisis pregnancies need support and choices. We should all agree on this. Unfortunately, it is rare for abortion facilities to offer their support to these women apart from that of abortion. Abortion facilities, of course, are running a business and they sell abortion. Honestly, why would they offer free work resources that would cut into their profit margin, such as free life-affirming social services or adoption assistance? A tangible example of this would be shown in Planned Parenthood’s 2021 annual report, where they committed 207 abortions per every single adoption referral. 

Pregnancy resource centers, however, do offer free resources and free choices through their social services to women. These social services include, but are not limited to, pregnancy counseling, life skills, and parenting classes, maternal and baby materials, like baby clothes, cribs, diapers, wipes, and maternity clothes. Often these centers will help connect women to other crucial services such as housing, job placement assistance, and help connect her to local and government resources that she also may be applicable for.

Yet when pro-lifers offer her this sort of aid, they’re often villainized as they do not offer the single acceptable option for those who call themselves pro-choice, that being abortion. I speak to you of this not only as an advocate who has professionally seen the utility and benefit of pregnancy resource centers, but as an aunt who would not have one of my nephews had it not been for services offered at pregnancy resource centers to my younger sister. 

Please do not unjustly hinder pregnancy resource centers from offering or advertising their resources to women in need. In the state of Texas, we actually reimburse Pregnancy Resource Centers, adoption agencies, and maternity homes for these sorts of services they offer women. If anything, I encourage you to protect and aid pregnancy resource centers ,as they continue to empower women and help them have the support to actually have options other than that of abortion. Please support women in crisis pregnancies by not reporting favorably House Bill 377 and Senate Bill 174. Thank you so much.



Rita Russo

Thank you, Chairman Cronin, members of the committee, I am Rita Russo. 

I volunteered at Your Options medical pregnancy resource center for nine years. During that time, I was a registered nurse and a certified nurse midwife. I took a — I attended a training program and was certified to do limited obstetrical ultrasounds.

During my time there, women came in for pregnancy testing, counseling for issues related to unplanned pregnancies. They frequently had no source of support or assistance. At the center, they were listened to and given an opportunity to discuss the full range of pregnancy options and their potential consequences. They were helped with housing and medical insurance when needed. Those who opted to continue the pregnancy were given ongoing support, parenting classes, and material goods, such as baby clothes and diapers. Those who chose to have an abortion were offered post-abortion healing programs. All services were completely free of charge to all clients and absolutely no cost to the state of Massachusetts.

The women who chose to continue their pregnancy always came back after delivery to show us their babies. They were proud, happy, and eager to share their joy. I never encountered a client who was not happy with the support that she received. 

Contrary to what the abortion industry would have us believe, most women are deeply wounded emotionally, spiritually, and even physically by abortion. It goes against a woman’s nature to kill her child. So many of the women who work at pregnancy resource centers have had a past abortion themselves. They understand the pain and suffering that they endured because they have experienced it. It is their hope that pregnant women will make informed decisions and be spared that suffering. 

The hypocrisy of opposing pregnancy resource centers that help women in need is apalling. In conclusion, if pregnancy resource centers should be providing abortion services and referrals, shouldn’t the abortion centers be providing prenatal and newborn services? They do not. The only choice they offer is abortion.

Please let women have real choice and oppose H.377 and S.B.175. Thank you very much.


Karysse Trandem:

Good afternoon, Chairman and members of the committee. Thank you for welcoming me today. I am a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologic surgeon, university associate professor of OB-GYN, have treated tens of thousands of patients in my career, and personally oversee pregnancy resource clinics across the U.S.A..

I speak in opposition of this bill for the sake of continued women’s health care access and treatment. 

Pregnancy resource clinics offer gold standard women’s medical care in Massachusetts, each overseen by a board-certified state-licensed physician and staffed by licensed health care staff. Services offered include, but are not limited to, medical grade pregnancy tests and professional interpretation, licensed pregnancy medical ultrasounds, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, pregnancy counseling on the risks and benefits of abortion, parenting, adoption, and a multitude of social services, all offered for free.

Patients absolutely come to our women’s clinics who are abortion-minded, just exactly as they come to a typical private OB-GYN office, often abortion-minded. Women unexpectedly pregnant are often scared, confused, and feel pressured to make an abortion decision quickly. Neither PRCs nor 93 percent of OB-GYN offices in Massachusetts offer abortions to these women. The pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute  research does confirm that 93 percent of OB-GYNs do not perform abortions, because we know the extensive national and international medical research that proves abortions harm women both mentally and physically.

Again, both PRCs and private OB-GYN offices advertise for pregnancy diagnosis and options counseling for abortion-minded women, but neither provide abortions. 

Thank you all for your service to Massachusetts women. I believe that you will now take a stand for true women’s health care and oppose this bill that prevents women from receiving access to free and excellent health care at pregnancy resource clinics across our state.



Danielle Pimentel:

Thank you. And good afternoon. My name is Danielle Pimentel with Americans United for Life. I’m one of the policy counsels, and I want to thank you all for the opportunity to testify today. I know it’s been a long afternoon, so thank you for your time. I’ll be testifying against House Bill 377 and Senate Bill 174. 

And as you’ve heard from today, these bills target and harass pregnancy resource centers solely because of their pro-life views. And as a result, threatens to shut down these centers that provide confidential and free essential services to underserved women and families, and in addition, chills pro-life pregnancy centers’ protected speech. And in the end, this will ultimately harm women and families who would lose access to multiple pro-life pregnancy centers that provide essential prenatal and postnatal services. 

So, given the way that the bill defines a limited services pregnancy center, the bill would of course only apply to pro-life pregnancy centers, because they do not provide or refer abortions or emergency contraceptives for reason of conscience or conviction. And this blatant under-inclusiveness reveals the true purpose of this bill, which is to disfavor a particular viewpoint. And under the First Amendment, the government may not engage in this kind of discrimination. And Massachusetts cannot trample on the First Amendment rights of pro-life pregnancy centers simply because they are pro-life. But these bills, if they were enacted, would allow the state to do so by targeting pro-life pregnancy centers because of their pro-life viewpoints, and subject them to harsh penalties and fines.

And this chills their protected speech because pregnancy centers would be unable to freely publish or display pro-life outreach materials without fear of being penalized and shut down. And not only would they be forced to pay thousands of dollars in fines and attorney’s fees, which can be very expensive, but they may even be forced to pay, quote, “appropriate corrective advertising.” This would financially cripple pregnancy centers, which are primarily donation-based. And while Massachusetts can certainly disagree with pregnancy centers’ pro-life position, it simply cannot harass them and prevent the women, children, and families of this state from receiving care and support that pregnancy resource centers provide. 

And this form of discrimination is unconstitutional and deeply detrimental to the communities across the state. If these centers are shut down, women would lose access to invaluable services that Massachusetts pro-life centers offer. As you’ve heard today, we’ve had many witnesses about the invaluable services these centers provide. 

And lastly, as you’ve also heard, leaving the word “deceptive,” undefined allows — it creates a vague standard whereby pregnancy resource centers would not — they would essentially be unable to comply with the law because it’s unclear as to what conduct is even prohibited. So that raises serious due process concerns.

So ultimately, there has been no evidence provided today that would justify a discriminatory bill that threatens to limit underserved women’s access to essential services. The women of Massachusetts deserve better than to have these resources stripped from them. And so I ask that you oppose these bills. Thank you so much.


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