WORCESTER SINKS ORDINANCE TO
CLOSE CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTERS
The chief executive and the chief legal officer of the City of Worcester are unwilling to proceed with a proposed municipal ordinance which would shut down pro-life pregnancy care centers in New England’s second largest city.
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.
According to a July 17th story in the Worcester Patch, City Solicitor Michael Traynor expressed “great reservations” about the proposed ordinance.
City Manager Eric Batista agreed with Traynor. In a statement, Batista said: “The options before the city are to draft a local ordinance that would likely be challenged, leaving the city exposed to potential fees and litigation, or an ordinance that provides no further protections for residents than state law currently does.”
In an even more remarkable development, Councilor Nguyen claims that the measure was stalled because of opposition from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office.
According to Batista, “The city solicitor spoke with a representative in the Attorney General’s office who informed the solicitor that they were not recommending” the measure.
While campaigning for governor in 2022, then Attorney General Maura Healey issued a press release and a Consumer Advisory denouncing crisis pregnancy centers. The current Attorney General, Andrea Campbell, actually campaigned for office on the promise to “Expose Crisis Pregnancy Centers.”
During last night’s (July 18th’s) City Council meeting, Batista, when questioned by Nguyen about why the proposed ordinance was not brought forward, replied “I was not comfortable doing that with the legal liability.”
Traynor then added that the ordinance would be a “content based regulation,” a likely First Amendment violation.
In a tactical retreat, Nguyen is now prepared to separate the abortion referral mandate from the regulatory provisions of the ordinance.
A supporter of the ordinance, Mayor Joseph Petty, who chairs the City Council, will have the Council revisit the measure in August.
The Catholic Action League called last night’s outcome “a temporary victory, at least, for common sense, constitutional rights, and legal sanity.”
Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle made the following comment: “Eric Batista, Michael Traynor, and the Councilors who opposed this repressive ordinance are to be commended for their fidelity to their oath of office, in the face of the hysterical lies and the totalitarian ambitions of the woke Council majority.”
“It is a glaring sign, however, of the manifest extremism and the patent unconstitutionality of this measure that even the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office, dominated in recent years by some of the most strident abortion proponents in Bay State history, is now advising against this profoundly problematic ordinance.”
“In its 2018 ruling in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, the U. S. Supreme Court overturned a California law which required faith based crisis pregnancy centers to present information on abortion to the women they served.”
“The Worcester city councilors who voted for this ordinance knew that it would never pass constitutional muster nor survive judicial scrutiny. Their vote was a cynical exercise in pandering to their political base while appeasing one of the most powerful special interests in the Commonwealth—Planned Parenthood.”
“They ought to be ashamed of themselves, but that would require a functioning conscience.”
In the twelve months since the initial resolution authorizing the drafting of the ordinance, no spokesman for the Catholic Church in Massachusetts has, to our knowledge, issued a public comment on it.