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New Jersey's Multipronged Lawfare Attack on Pro-Life Pregnancy Resource Centers


Olivia Summers

March 26

4 min read

Pro Life



Once again pro-life Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs) are under attack by radical abortion activists. As we have explained before, PRCs are local nonprofit organizations that provide invaluable aid to mothers facing difficult decisions concerning pregnancy. They offer a host of free or low-cost resources—medical, material, and educational—to help millions of women around the country. However, pro-abortion politicians, policymakers, and government officials have systematically been targeting PRCs to silence them and shut them down. Several years ago, we saw the Biden Administration try this tactic, and we responded in defense of the PRCs, warning the Administration to tread carefully.

However, PRCs are under attack at the state level as well. Not long ago, we informed you about an open letter opposing PRCs that was signed by 16 attorneys general from pro-abortion states. One of the attorneys general who signed that letter was New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin. Attorney General Platkin has used his position to target PRCs in New Jersey by publicly making statements against them, issuing a “consumer alert” against them, and issuing a subpoena to one PRC—First Choice—demanding ten years’ worth of documents from them.

In addition to these attacks by Attorney General Platkin, pro-abortion legislators in New Jersey are pushing abusive and radical legislation that would forcefully censor PRCs that provide care, assistance, and alternatives to women. Currently, Bill A861 has been introduced and purports to only censor “false” or “misleading claims” by PRCs. However, A861 is, in reality, an unconstitutional attempt to censor religiously based, pro-life PRCs if they make statements that are determined by pro-abortion prosecutors to be “false or misleading advertisements or other such communications about abortion, contraception, and other pregnancy-related services.”

The bill augments the state’s Consumer Fraud Act by punishing the dissemination of information the state considers misleading or fraudulent. The bill specifically targets PRCs by limiting nonprofit pregnancy services that provide peer-to-peer counseling resources, refer expecting mothers to adoption centers, and provide other resources to assist in the care of the unborn child. The law does not include in its scope licensed medical facilities, specifically “licensed health care facilities, ambulatory care facilities, and birthing facilities that provide ‘family planning and prenatal care.’”

The narrow definition the bill provides for crisis pregnancy centers has been determined by a New Jersey Legislative Services legal opinion to be “unlicensed operations, associated with nonprofit organizations that provide peer-related counseling which includes referrals generally related to services supporting pregnancy and childbirth but not referrals for abortions or ‘other pregnancy-related services.’” This means that abortion centers that provide false or misleading information will not be prosecuted under the statute as they are licensed medical facilities, resulting in PRCs being the only organization censored by the legislation.

This legislation has analyzed and been deemed constitutionally questionable by the New Jersey legislature’s Office of Legislative Services (OLS).

In an opinion provided to the ACLJ by NJ Right to Life, which received it from Assemblyman Jay Webber, the OLS has determined that A861 is likely “unconstitutional as it is not sufficiently narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling State interest” and is “both underinclusive and overinclusive” in its attempt to regulate speech. Yet A861 (as the OLS opinion explains) is a prime example of the kind of legislation that is being introduced and even passed in pro-abortion states across the country.

Not only are these laws unconstitutional restrictions of PRCs’ right to free speech, but they are attempts to advance abortion at any cost. PRCs are constantly under attack from radical abortionists because the work they do is effective and makes a difference. This is why the ACLJ is deeply committed to protecting the sanctity of preborn lives, supporting women in their decision to choose life, and advocating for PRCs, which are dedicated to doing both.

We will never back down from the fight to protect women and to defend the most vulnerable in our society—precious preborn children.

In the coming days, we are filing an amicus brief at the U.S. Supreme Court asking the Justices to hear the case where First Choice was specifically targeted by the New Jersey Attorney General.

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