New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer recently launched a brazen attack on pregnancy centers on a state level and is a proponent of legislation designed to handcuff the organizations on a national level.

On October 6, Rep. Gottheimer held a press conference in front of Lighthouse Pregnancy Center in Hackensack, NJ.

“The Lighthouse Pregnancy Resource Center appears harmless. But it’s actually one of many deceptive brainwashing cult clinics across our state and country, known as crisis pregnancy centers,” he said. “We need to do everything we can to shut down these brainwashing cult clinics.”

Gottheimer’s accusations were immediately challenged and met with harsh criticism by pro-life and ministry leaders, who called his comments discriminatory and offensive. In the House of Representatives, Gottheimer is helping to lead the Stop Anti-abortion Disinformation Act, which accuses pregnancy centers of engaging in false advertising.

“Women often go to these healthcare hoax clinics thinking they will receive real medical help, but instead they are greeted by people with no medical background whose goal is to brainwash women with their own ideological agenda,” he said.

Debbie Provencher, executive director of Lighthouse Pregnancy Resource Center, refuted that claim and others by Gottheimer. At the press conference, Provencher approached the congressman and informed him that Lighthouse does have nurses and sonographers on site.

Gottheimer, who represents New Jersey’s 5th District, replied, “According to my research they don’t.”

“It is sad to me because I think [his comments] come from misinformation and not true first-hand knowledge,” Provencher said. “As far as we know, he’s never actually spoken to our staff or the parents we serve to understand what we do and the positive impact we’ve had on thousands of lives in his district.”

Lighthouse, with four locations in North Jersey, is among the 1,200 pregnancy centers in the Care Net network; Collectively, these pregnancy centers have saved the lives of more than 1 million unborn babies since 2008. Roland Warren, president, and CEO of Care Net, said Gottheimer’s claims against pregnancy centers have been repeatedly disproven.

“Indeed, his desperation is simply an indication that he understands the threat pregnancy centers are to the chokehold that the abortion industry wants to have on women facing unplanned pregnancies,” Roland Warren said. “But pregnancy centers, despite attempts to discredit them, will continue to do lifesaving, community-transforming work all over the country, including in New Jersey.”

Gottheimer is not the only high-ranking government official to come against New Jersey’s pregnancy centers. In December of 2022, New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin issued a consumer alert, alleging that pregnancy centers mislead and misrepresent how they operate. A consortium of New Jersey pregnancy centers responded by filing suit, claiming that the consumer alert unfairly tarnishes their reputation and disregards the valuable services the centers offer at no charge to thousands of women and their families each year.

Eileen S. Den Bleyker, Esq., an attorney representing the consortium, requested copies of the documents supporting the Consumer Alert’s claims under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act and the common law. No documentation for the statements was forthcoming from the State, who asserted the request was improper.

Den Bleyker called Rep. Gottheimer’s recent remarks ill-informed, false, and defamatory.

“In his efforts to ‘shut down’ pregnancy centers and remove free help to women in need, Rep. Gottheimer showed up unannounced in front of one of our member centers and mischaracterized all New Jersey pregnancy resource centers,” explained Den Bleyker.

Provencher said attacking Lighthouse and other New Jersey pregnancy centers hurts – rather than helps – New Jersey women.

“Rep. Gottheimer is directly harming women who benefit from a safe place to think through their pregnancy decisions and obtain medical confirmation of pregnancy… The centers also provide women with social support, parenting education, and basic necessities to care for their newborn children. Caring for women and their families is at the heart of what we do as pregnancy centers. Attacks against us are attacks against those we serve.”

More Resources: the Truth about Pregnancy Centers