Sanders and Warren demonize pregnancy centers amid attacks on them

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Vandals have targeted approximately 70 pro-life pregnancy resource centers since the Supreme Court’s draft decision leaked in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that overturned Roe v. Wade, but Senate Democrats launched their own attack on these pro-life centers, demonizing them as a potential “surveillance infrastructure” to fuel “pregnancy and abortion lawsuits.”

Seven prominent Democrats, including former presidential candidates Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. (a nominal independent who caucus with Democrats) – sent a letter to Heartbeat International CEO Jor-El Godsey on Monday demanding answers about how the organization uses the data women provide to pregnancy centers in crisis .

The letter insinuates that Heartbeat International may use the data to target women and their healthcare providers for prosecution under laws restricting abortion.

Democrats cite a report by The Alliance: State Advocates for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, which suggests that the crisis pregnancy center “industry is now operating as a surveillance infrastructure for the anti-abortion movement, accumulating data that could be used in pregnancy and abortion”. – post-Roe lawsuits.

“Heartbeat International – which is explicitly opposed to abortion rights – appears to be able to collect a significant amount of personal information from women about their pregnancies and their potential plans for managing their care, but it is not subject to under no legal obligation to maintain abortion rights confidentiality of such information, or to keep it out of the hands of abortion bounty hunters,” the senators wrote. The phrase “bounty hunter” is a reference derisory to the Texas Abortion Law of 2021, which allows individuals to sue in state court against people who allegedly perform or encourage certain abortions, offering a reward for successful prosecutions.

Senators accuse Heartbeat International of ‘luring pregnant women… into joining [crisis pregnancy center] using a variety of false and misleading tactics,” such as suggesting that these pro-life centers provide “legitimate abortion and reproductive health care services” when on the surface they do not. [Note the use of “pregnant people” there and the avoidance of the now supposedly offensive term “woman.”]

Although the approximately 3,000 pregnancy resource centers in the United States do not offer abortions, they do provide various services, such as pregnancy testing, counseling on available options (including parenthood, adoption and abortion), ultrasounds, tests and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases, classes on prenatal care and parenting, maternal assistance with things such as diapers and baby clothes, support after an abortion, medical references, etc. Over a five-year period beginning in 2016, pregnancy resource centers are believed to have saved an estimated 828,131 lives, and in 2019 alone served almost 2 million people.

Vandals, many apparently associated with the group Jane’s Revenge, have carried out 70 attacks on these centers since May 3, according to Catholic Vote. Vandals smashed windows, sprayed graffiti reading “If abortion isn’t safe, neither are you,” and set fire to some centers.

The Democrats’ letter acknowledges that Heartbeat International and its affiliated pregnancy resource centers “claim to adhere to [federal regulations] to protect patient health information,” but he says the organization is not required to follow federal law and does not disclose how it uses the data.

In a statement sent to the Daily Signal on Tuesday, Godsey condemned the letter as “naked politics intended not to help women, but to influence elections.”

“This is clearly a stunt designed to appease the power brokers of Big Abortion,” he said.

“It is important to note that none of the senators listed in the letter condemned the actual violence and vandalism against pregnancy counseling centers this summer,” Godsey added. “Instead, they spent their time fabricating a narrative out of unfounded speculation. Rather than finding ways to help women choose something other than abortion, they have used their political powers to intimidate those who help women make life-saving choices.

Indeed, none of the signatories to the letter—Sens. Booker, Sanders and Warren, along with Democratic senses Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut responded to the Daily Signal’s request for comment on attacks on pro resources -life on pregnancy centers at the time of publication.

“What we do is safe, secure and legal,” Godsey said. “Heartbeat has been providing help for over 50 years and we have never had one of these questions or concerns until recently and then from those who have a clear abortion program. politics, and we only regret that it detracts from our important work of helping women find alternatives to abortion.

The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, an organization that legally represents and staffs pregnancy resource centers, condemned the Democrats’ letter.

“Democrats are working extremely hard to shut down organizations that exist to help women in need,” Anne O’Connor, the institute’s vice president of legal affairs, told the Daily Signal. “Life-affirming medical pregnancy centers and their 10,000 licensed medical professionals nationwide provide free essential services, such as prenatal vitamins, ultrasounds, [and] Screening for STIs, for women facing an unplanned pregnancy.

“It’s weird that it bothers people like Elizabeth Warren so much,” O’Connor noted. “She says she’s ‘pro-choice’, but in reality she’s only one choice: abortion. If she really cared about women, she would condemn violence against life-affirming pregnancy centers without trying to close their doors.

“Life-affirming pregnancy centers keep all medical records confidential and secured by [the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act], state medical record privacy laws, and standards for the medical profession,” O’Connor added. “Confidentiality and security of medical records is standard in the healthcare industry, and life-affirming pregnancy centers are no different. Interestingly, Warren did not cite any incidents to support her outrageous claim that the centers fail to protect their patients’ privacy.

O’Connor called the omission “evidence that she is fabricating this misconception to promote her radical pro-abortion agenda.”

Connor Semelsberger, director of federal affairs for life and human dignity at the Family Research Council, compared the Democrats’ letter to the demonization tactics of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

As I documented in my book, “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” the center condemns conservative nonprofits like the Family Research Council as “hate groups,” placing them on a card alongside the Ku Klux Klan.

“Here at the Family Research Council, we have been tracking not only attacks on pregnancy centers, but also on churches, and to see the violent increase in building damage and vandalism,” Semelsberger told the Daily Signal. . He said the Democratic senators’ letter is “likely to increase attacks” on pregnancy resource centers.

“When an organization is portrayed in a negative light in this way, as if it is doing something morally wrong or wrong, it can paint a target on its back,” he added. “We at [the Family Research Council] know this particularly well. 10 years ago we witnessed a violent attack in our own building directly linked to the attack on the Southern Poverty Law Center [our] work on marriage and religious freedom as something wrong and to be avoided.

Three of the seven senators who signed the letter – Hirono, Booker and Blumenthal – also cited the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “hate group” accusation of attacking former President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees.

Semelsberger also dismissed the Democrats’ insinuations as completely baseless.

While the letter cautions against legal action against women, Semelsberger noted that “none of the current laws in any way criminalizes a mother seeking an abortion.”

Additionally, he noted that Crisis Pregnancy Centers have been collecting health information since 2017 and until June of this year, Roe v. Wade remained on the books, so “there has been no enforcement” of the type suggested by Democrats. “It would be quite misplaced to assume that this data collected over the past five years is going to law enforcement,” he said.

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