Pro-abortion officials in Hartford, Connecticut, are trying an end run around a Supreme Court ruling that forbade California from requiring crisis pregnancy centers to promote abortion to their clients.
The city is forcing a group called Caring Families and its affiliated Mobile Care ministry to state through signs posted inside and outside the facility, telephone conversations and in a statement on its website whether or not there is a “licensed medical provider” on site to supervise services.
But the terms are not defined, and the services the center provides don’t require any such supervision, argue lawyers for the Alliance Defending Freedom in their federal lawsuit against the ordinance.
The pregnancy center provides pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling and adoption referrals. It also offers parenting classes, Bible studies, support groups, and referrals for housing and job training. And it distributes without charge baby clothes, diapers, formula, cribs and car seats.
Further, the city has exempted from the ordinance all “abortion clinics, community health centers, and all other health care entities,” indicating officials are targeting the pro-life center.
“No woman should feel alone, hopeless, or without options during an unexpected pregnancy,” said ADF Legal Counsel Denise Harle. “Hartford has no business implying – by force of law – that Caring Families and other pro-life care providers are anything but competent and tolerant. Worse still, Hartford claims it’s promoting comprehensive information about health care but only censors and interferes with specific views about life, pregnancy, motherhood – a double standard that’s both troubling and unconstitutional.”
Hartford requires pregnancy centers to post signs and verbally share messages announcing, “This facility does not have a licensed medical provider on site to provide or supervise all services.”
The lawsuit asserts the city has “crafted a speaker-based, viewpoint-based law, targeting the speech only of speakers espousing certain pro-life moral, religious, and philosophical beliefs.”
“The city has no business steering women away from life-affirming help,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot, vice president of the ADF Center for Life. “The U.S. Supreme Court ruled just last year that pro-life pregnancy centers should be free to serve women without unjust government punishment. Hartford’s law only makes it harder for women to seek out all of their options and obtain support. That’s why we’re filing a lawsuit to protect pregnancy centers from hostile regulation that singles them out.”
The federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Connecticut against the city seeks an order declaring the city’s ordinance unconstitutional and awarding compensatory damages.
The city is demanding “compelled statements” that “incorrectly imply that Mobile Care is not qualified to provide the free services it offers,” the complaint states.
“The practical result of enforcing the ordinance’s Compelled Speech provision would be not only to inhibit a religious ministry from furthering its mission and message but also to force religious speakers to speak messages with misleading, confusing and negative implications,” the complaint charges. “This violates the laws of the state of Connecticut and the Constitution.”
The lawsuit contends the city “is intent on interfering with certain views about life, pregnancy, and motherhood.”