The Massachusetts Department of Public Health recently launched an aggressive education campaign against pregnancy centers that seeks to strip the organizations of all credibility.

State officials are touting the initiative as “the first of its kind,” but the government-funded defamation attack is undoubtedly the worst of its kind.

The public education campaign, which will appear on social media platforms, billboards, radio, and transit, warns residents about the “dangers and potential harm” of crisis pregnancy centers. Funded through a $1 million investment that the Massachusetts legislature passed as part of its 2023 supplemental budget, the campaign was created by the Department of Public Health (DPH) in collaboration with the Reproductive Equity Now Foundation, a non-profit that seeks to “expand abortion access and reproductive equity for everyone.”

On the DPH’s campaign website, pregnancy centers are portrayed as using deceptive advertising, providing medical misinformation, employing untrained staff and volunteers, and intentionally targeting communities of color.

The is also backed by Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey.

“We are committed to protecting and expanding access to safe and legal abortion,” Healey said. “That includes protecting patients from the deceptive and dangerous tactics that anti-abortion centers often use to stop people from accessing comprehensive reproductive services. This campaign is an important way to provide accurate information so residents can make informed decisions about reproductive care that are right for them.” 

In response to the campaign, the Pregnancy Care Alliance of Massachusetts, which includes several Care Net affiliated pregnancy centers, issued a statement:      

Massachusetts’ network of pregnancy care centers provides millions of dollars in no-cost support and care for thousands of women annually who face planned and unplanned pregnancies, with services ranging from pregnancy confirmation services, parenting education, and community referrals to material goods like diapers and formula. The women served by pregnancy resource centers overwhelmingly report a positive experience, yet the Healey Administration and other politicians in the state are furthering their extreme abortion agenda by using a taxpayer-funded campaign to discredit our centers. This politically motivated campaign will negatively impact women the most, specifically the many women who want to parent and rely on the free assistance we provide.

On its website, the Pregnancy Care Alliance categorically refutes the information disseminated by the DPH.

For example, in regards to the DPH campaign claim that PRCs do not provide comprehensive health care, the Alliance responds by stating: “Pregnancy centers provide numerous services for pregnant women that may include any or all of the following: lab-quality pregnancy testing, ultrasound exam, STI testing and treatment, consultation with a licensed medical profession, information on all pregnancy options by qualified advocates…”

The Pregnancy Care Alliance of Massachusetts is also responding to the state’s campaign through a petition on its website. In addition to decrying the current campaign launched by DPH, the petition lists numerous legislative attempts and advisories designed to pressure and limit pregnancy centers in Massachusetts in the wake of the 2022 Dobbs decision.

On June 25, 2024, the Alliance will deliver the petition and share their stories at the Celebration of Life Day at the Massachusetts State House.

“The women of Massachusetts deserve every opportunity to exercise choice when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Pregnancy resource centers can present this choice through cost-free services, medical care, material goods and counseling, in addition to compassion, support and varied options for housing assistance and job training that no abortion provider offers,” the petition states.

“We demand that all state efforts to undermine PRCs cease immediately. Additionally, we request that a rectifying statement be issued to Massachusetts residents, who, because of the state’s unwarranted attacks, have formed grave misperceptions of PRCs.”