If you’ve lived in Massachusetts for a while, you’re familiar with the often-wobbly reasoning that supports local ordinances. I’ve lived here for 21 years, until recently in ultra-progressive Hampshire County. I thought I’d seen it all. And yet I’m still shaking my head after what I experienced during a hearing in Cambridge yesterday.
City councilors there admire what their Somerville neighbors did a few months ago: banned “limited service pregnancy centers.” It didn’t matter that there weren’t any such organizations in Somerville. The city banned them anyway. Cambridge officials, apparently sensing a similar immediate threat from nonexistent centers designed to offer free services to women in crisis, want to keep them out of their town, too.
So, Cambridge city councilors drafted an ordinance and, in the spirit of democracy, welcomed the public to comment on the proposed measure. I was one of 10 individuals who testified yesterday at the hybrid hearing. You can read my testimony below. Every one of us spoke in opposition to the proposal. Not one member of the public showed up to support it, though with its many flaws, one could be forgiven for mistaking it as parody.
Public comment closed and each self-proclaimed pro-choice city councilor refuted our opposition, a couple of them noting how “outraged” they were at the truth we spoke. Then they turned to City Solicitor Nancy Glowa, asking her to offer her findings on the ordinance’s language. In a three-page summary, she concluded what should not have been at all shocking to the councilors who wrote the draft: As written, the ordinance is unconstitutional – and for more than one reason.
The hearing ended with a unanimous vote (save one absence) to courageously pull up the Somerville ordinance and borrow its wording to use in a revised Cambridge-style attempt at justice for women in need.
If you’d like to provide a statement that opposes this initiative, you can email [email protected].
I’ll keep you posted.
Public Comment - September 20, 2022
Proposed Ordinance 2022-16, Banning Limited Pregnancy Service Centers
Good afternoon. My name is Myrna Maloney Flynn. I have four simple questions for committee members today.
First, have you taken time to meet those who have been helped by pregnancy resource centers (PRCs)? It seems as though you have not, since your proposed ordinance contains false information. PRCs do not “present themselves as providing services to pregnant people.” PRCs in fact do provide services to women in need. Before you move forward, I encourage each of you to meet women and men who have been rescued by PRCs and offered something other than abortion at what might have been the darkest time of their lives.
Next, the proposed ordinance states PRC practices are “deceptive.” Well, in 2020 & 2021, there were more than 9,000 abortions at Boston’s Planned Parenthood. So, my second question to you is this: Do you know how many clinic workers there disclosed information about those 9,000 pregnancies with women by sharing ultrasound images or facts of fetal development, in order that those women could make informed decisions? Since Massachusetts does not require abortionists to share ultrasound photos with women, grave and consistent deception occurs not at PRCs but in abortion clinics.
Finally, why are self-described "pro-choice" advocates determined to eliminate choice and steer women right into abortion clinics instead? A woman has never died at a PRC. Can you say the same about abortion clinics?
If you cannot answer those questions, then how can you enact this measure? I urge the ordinance committee to perform greater due diligence. It’s ironic to me that the city which houses the greatest educational institutions on the planet has failed to think critically about this preemptive measure.
Those who would love to see PRCs fail simply have no idea of the good they accomplish. Staff members at pregnancy resource centers are not villains. They are heroes.
One last comment: I commend the city of Cambridge for wanting to act in the best interests of its residents. I believe those who support this proposal and those who oppose it truly do care about women in crisis. I lead an organization called Massachusetts Citizens for Life. We’d be happy to work with you to help – in ways that affirm the dignity of women and their unborn children. Thank you.