Patricia Stewart oral testimony in opposition to H.377 / S.174

Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure
July 24, 2023, 1:00PM
Public Hearing on H.377/S.174 An Act to protect patient privacy and prevent unfair and deceptive advertising of pregnancy related services


I am Patricia Stewart, Executive Director of Massachusetts Citizens for Life and I oppose H.377/S.174.

On April 11th this year, I requested public records from the office of the Attorney General of Massachusetts “that reflect or refer to complaints, accusations, dissatisfactions, or other concerns asserted at any time” against any of 41 identified pregnancy resource centers in Massachusetts.

On May 1st, I received the AGO’s response, stating the records she was providing “encompassed all of the complaints received by the AGO as of April 14, 2023,” the date she received my request.

These records consist of :

  • 4 consumer complaints – with redacted dates - against 3 named PRCs and
  • 1 third-party complaint against 1 of the same 3 PRCs, dated 2017 from a Washington DC group, whose website promotes a Planned Parenthood blog.

Notably absent were any records evidencing action taken by the AGO in response to these complaints.

PRCs have been serving needy pregnant women in MA for some 39 years. In 2022 alone, they served 2079 clients. In 39 years, they have served many thousands more. 

Four consumer complaints in 39 years attest the extraordinary safety record and client satisfaction with PRC policies and procedures. 

Four consumer complaints in 39 years give the lie to the pretext of presumed deception and unsafe practices that underlay H.377. 

In addition, this bill is facially unconstitutional. A due process principle deems a law void for vagueness if its prohibitions are not clearly defined. It demands that “laws give the person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited….” 

This bill does not define the prohibited “statement…that is deceptive…by statement or omission.” 

Webster’s Dictionary defines “deceptive” as “tending or having the power to deceive: misleading.”

Would a PRC advertisement that omits driving directions be considered “deceptive” to someone with no GPS access who got lost? Or, would omission of a “Closed on Sunday” notice be deemed to have “deceived” someone who attempted to visit a PRC on a Sunday?

With no defining parameters, the opportunities to offend are unknowable, and thus, unconstitutional.

H.377 is not about protecting women’s health; it is about protecting abortion providers’ profits by censoring and ultimately shutting down their only competition – the PRCs of Massachusetts, who work for free and offer women a true choice.

I respectfully request H.377 receive an unfavorable report.