Dear Friend of the Family,
After more than a year of deliberation, MFI has helped to secure another great victory for pro-life pregnancy resource centers (PRCs). This time, it was in the second largest city in New England, Worcester. For the past year, members of the Worcester City Council had been trying to pass an unconstitutional, unnecessary, and unethical ordinance to fine PRCs for “false advertising practices.” Last week, the City Council voted 7 – 4 to table the ordinances indefinitely, effectively killing them. Read more about this great victory here. We recently helped defeat similar unconstitutional ordinances in Easthampton and Framingham. You can read about the Easthampton victory here.
Pro-life pregnancy resource centers are typically faith-based nonprofit organizations that provide a wide array of free resources to pregnant and parenting mothers and their children. These resources include everything from material items, like diapers and strollers, to counseling services and medical care. But after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, Planned Parenthood and enraged pro-abortion activists set their sights on destroying PRCs as revenge for the massive legal defeat they suffered. MFI stood by PRCs as everyone from petty vandals to our own attorney general launched attacks against them.
In Worcester, as in other municipalities across Massachusetts, pro-abortion city councilors proposed ordinances to stifle the free speech of pro-life PRCs. One proposed ordinance would have fined PRCs hundreds of dollars for engaging in “deceptive advertising,” without even defining the term “deceptive.” Of course, it would not have applied to Planned Parenthood or other abortion clinics. Under the ordinance, PRCs would have had to walk on eggshells any time they spoke about abortion; if the City subjectively deemed a statement to be “misleading,” it could punish them. The other ordinance would have forced PRCs to put unnecessary disclaimers on everything they publish. The ordinances so clearly violated the First Amendment rights of PRCs that the City attorney who drafted them urged the Council not to pass them! And yet, the pro-abortion councilors were undeterred.
MFI actively engaged with the City Council to make it clear that passing the ordinances would be the wrong move. We helped rally many local advocates to speak at City Council meetings, including past clients of Worcester PRCs. And we sent three separate legal letters over the course of multiple months to inform the Council that if the ordinances passed, they should expect a lawsuit.
We are praising God that in the end, the City Council got the message: You can’t censor pro-life voices just because you don’t like what they have to say. We hope that other Massachusetts cities will finally get the message, too. While we remain vigilant to guard against other attacks on PRCs, we are grateful for this hard-won victory in Worcester and the effects that it will have, Lord willing, throughout the Commonwealth.
For our families,
Sam Whiting, Staff Attorney
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