The Worcester City Council is considering draft legislation aimed at regulating "crisis pregnancy centers," also known as Pregnancy Resource Centers, which offer multiple free services to pregnant women but not abortion.
The deliberation is scheduled for the upcoming Worcester City Council meeting set to take place on Tuesday, August 22, 2023. The meeting's agenda is available here.
Despite concerns from the City Manager Eric D. Batista and the City Solicitor Michael Traynor about potential legal challenges, two proposals have been put forth to regulate how these centers advertise their services.
These centers have grown in number across the country, supported by pro-life activists who seek to steer individuals away from abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.
Worcester At-Large City Councilor Thu Nguyen initiated the push for regulations similar to those in Somerville and Cambridge. The City Manager and Solicitor resisted drafting such regulations more than a year ago, but eventually, proposals were submitted after a confrontation involving Nguyen, according to a Worcester Patch report.
City Manager Batista argues that implementing such laws could expose the city to lawsuits from pro-life groups.
Currently, Worcester hosts two pregnancy resource centers, Clearway Clinic and Problem Pregnancy.
A few weeks ago in the City of Easthampton, Massachusetts, a similar regulation attempt was vetoed by the Mayor over concerns about exceeding the city's authority and potential legal costs.