Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner’s More Interested In Attacking Pro-Life Centers Than In Improving Public Health

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At the beginning of January, commissioner Robert Goldstein of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued a memorandum to all Massachusetts health care providers, supposedly to remind them about their licensure obligations.

But to careful readers, it was immediately apparent that the letter represented a thinly veiled threat against the license of any medical professional who partners with pro-life pregnancy resource centers, also sometimes called crisis pregnancy centers.

This memo was the opening salvo in a new offensive against these charitable centers by the pro-abortion Left in Massachusetts, and it is perhaps the most dangerous attack that pregnancy resource centers have faced so far.

The week after it was published, Massachusetts Family Institute sent a letter to the commissioner to make clear that if he follows through on his threats, we’ll defend the rights of these centers in court.

For those who don’t know, pregnancy resource centers are charitable pro-life organizations that help women with unplanned pregnancies. One of their main goals is to give women the support that they need to choose life for their unborn children. They offer practical products, like diapers and wipes, and may also offer or refer for a wide range of services, including counseling, ultrasounds, and testing for sexually transmitted infections. All of these items and services are provided free of charge. Unsurprisingly, they report a client satisfaction rating of more than 95 percent.

But since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, pro-life pregnancy resource centers have been subjected to misinformationhostile legislation, and even physical violence. At both the state and municipal level, legislators and officials have proposed laws to censor the free speech of pro-life centers.  And in some places in Massachusetts, vitriolic rhetoric has been followed by acts of vandalism against them. Despite all this, pregnancy resource centers have stood strong against these attacks with the support of passionate pro-life advocates as well as groups like Massachusetts Family Institute.

Seeing that their campaign of intimidation and censorship has failed thus far, the pro-abortion Left is pivoting to a new strategy:  They are weaponizing the state’s administrative agencies to go after medical professionals who partner with pregnancy resource centers.

It’s a clever tactic. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health knows how essential doctors and nurses are to these centers. Without them, the pro-life centers can’t provide vital services like ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, or abortion pill reversal.

The health department commissioner’s memo targeted pro-life professionals by implying that any work they do for a pregnancy resource center will expose them to charges of engaging in “deceptive practices” and unprofessional conduct. The memo even suggested that participating in abortion pill reversal, which has saved more than 4,000 lives and has a track record of safety and efficacy, could subject a doctor to discipline. Perhaps worst of all, the Department of Public Health web site now states that the agency “actively seeks feedback and complaints from individuals who have had concerning experiences with anti-abortion centers” (emphasis added).  In other words, the state’s public health agency is itching to bring down the regulatory hammer on pro-life medical professionals:  all they need are a few complaints.

But pregnancy resource centers are far more resilient than Commissioner Goldstein gives them credit for. Unlike Planned Parenthood and its cronies, pro-life centers are driven by compassion, not profit. For our part at Massachusetts Family Institute, we’ve made clear to the commissioner that if he moves forward with this scheme, he should expect a fight. As we stated in our letter to the commissioner, we will draw on every resource, pursue every remedy, and partner with every ally to protect the life-saving and life-giving work of pregnancy resource centers in Massachusetts. We stand ready to take legal action as necessary to defend these centers.

If the Massachusetts Department of Public Health really wants to promote public health, it should call off its attack on pregnancy resource centers.   


Sam Whiting is a Massachusetts Family Institute staff attorney.


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