WORCESTER POSTPONES ACTION
ON CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTERS-
CITY SOLICITOR REMAINS OPPOSED
CATHOLIC ACTION LEAGUE OF BOSTON:
The Worcester City Council has postponed, once again, consideration of measures targeting pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in New England’s second largest city.
Thirteen months ago, on July 19, 2022, the Worcester City Council voted 6 to 5 to authorize the City Manager and the City Solicitor to draft an ordinance which would compel crisis pregnancy centers to “directly provide or provide referrals for abortions or emergency contraception.”
As compliance with this proposed ordinance would be a moral impossibility for pro-life Christians, its enactment would force the closure of the city’s two pregnancy care centers, Clearway Clinic and Problem Pregnancy.
The measure was sponsored by the state’s first “non-binary” elected official, City Councilor Thu Nguyen, who was endorsed by Planned Parenthood.
In July of 2023 however, it was revealed that City Solicitor Michael Traynor had expressed “great reservations” about the proposed ordinance, believing that it would expose the city to costly litigation, adding that it would likely fail a First Amendment test as “content based regulation.”
In an even more remarkable development, City Manager Eric Batista, who instructed Traynor not to proceed with the draft, admitted that the measure was stalled because of opposition from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office.
Mayor Joseph Petty, a supporter of the ordinance, wanted the matter to be taken up at the August 22nd City Council meeting, but City Councilor Donna Colorio placed a hold on the measure, delaying debate until September 12th.
Meanwhile, Traynor, as City Solicitor, has become more explicit in his opposition to the entire concept.
Following a confrontation between the Council and the City Manager on July 18th, Batista instructed Traynor to draft an ordinance for the Council’s consideration.
Traynor produced two proposals, a Deceptive Advertising Ordinance and a Transparency in Advertising Ordinance.
The first would target pro-life pregnancy centers, and only pro-life pregnancy centers, with prohibitions against deceptive advertising, while the second would require all pregnancy care centers to post what procedures they do, and do not, perform. They would also be required to inform the public if they are a licensed medical facility.
In a memo to the City Manager dated August 22, 2023, Traynor argued against both measures he authored.
Traynor wrote that the first proposal is “under inclusive and selective in its application,” that similar measures in Connecticut and Illinois had failed, and that the ordinance “would not survive a First Amendment challenge.”
In his analysis of the second proposal, Traynor wrote that its legality is “dubious,” as it would constitute government compelled speech, and would fail to pass judicial review.
The public opposition of Batista and Traynor to the Worcester proposals comes less than three weeks after the Easthampton, Massachusetts City Council upheld the veto by Mayor Nicole LaChapelle of a similar proposal.
Catholic Action League Executive Director C.J. Doyle made the following comment: “In its rage over the Dobbs decision, the abortion lobby embarked on a reckless and punitive campaign to demonize, restrict and suppress pro-life pregnancy care centers.”
“That campaign is now on a clear collision course with the First Amendment, and the First Amendment is likely to prevail.”
“It speaks volumes about this controversy that even public officials who support legal abortion, and their legal advisers, are predicting that this strategy will result in burdensome costs and embarrassing failures.”