Top Law Enforcement Officers' Priority? Target Pregnancy Centers.


Vance Voetberg

Since the reversal of Roe v. Wade, the stand to protect life has entered a new strategic phase. Life’s defenders now work to rectify the enduring moral and legal imprint Roe molded in 1973. And those opposed to protecting the unborn have shaped their Supreme Court defeat into an effort to extend so-called “reproductive justice” at the state level.  

Apart from placing scarcely any limitations on abortion, "reproductive justice” has manifested itself in punitive actions against pregnancy centers that, as a matter of fact, advocate for justice and celebrate the miracle that is human reproduction.  

This unfortunate irony has become a reality created by some of our nation’s top law enforcement officials.

WA Attorney General Investigates Life-Affirming Medical Nonprofit

Obria Pacific Northwest is a Christian-run group of pregnancy resource centers serving Washington’s coastal communities. Obria PNW provides pregnancy and STD testing, ultrasounds, pregnancy option counseling, parental education and support, and men’s health services. Throughout the region, they’re known for their kind and compassionate care.  

In May of 2022, Obria’s reputation caught the attention of Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson. Without citing a single complaint or evidence of wrongdoing, he chose to investigate the pregnancy center.

The Attorney General issued a demand that Obria PNW turn over its sensitive internal documents due to concerns about “possible” violations of a Washington State consumer protection law. The sweeping subpoena alleged suspicion that the center was “unfair” or “deceptive” in its representation of abortion pill reversal.  

Obria PNW was forced to answer interrogatories and surrender hundreds of documents detailing the identities of every employee, volunteer, accountant, bookkeeper, and any other contractors dating back to January 1, 2010.  

The Attorney General also ordered “all notices, agendas, and minutes for every meeting” of the board of directors, medical advisory board, and executive teams. The subpoena further demanded tax forms, financial statements, operation expenses, and even information about employee compensation and retirement dating back more than a decade.

For over a year, Obria PNW redirected much of its time and resources from serving the community to satisfying Attorney General Ferguson’s enigmatic and expansive investigation.  

In total, Obria PNW submitted over 1,500 pages worth of information detailing the pregnancy center’s operations and affiliations.


Why Target Abortion Pill Reversal?

Abortion pill reversal is a treatment that works to counteract the effects of mifepristone. Mifepristone is an abortion drug that blocks the natural hormone progesterone, which is essential for sustaining pregnancy. But if a pregnant woman changes her mind after taking mifepristone, healthcare providers have a brief window in which they can administer an influx of progesterone, and in many instances, save the pregnancy. Statistics suggest this last-minute and remarkably safe intervention has saved thousands of unborn lives.

This raises the question: Why go after abortion pill reversal?  

Assuming he stayed logically consistent with his “pro-choice” position, the Attorney General would want widespread access to abortion pill reversal because it reinforces choice. And supposing he adheres to his belief that the government should not come between a woman and her doctor, he would not impose his office between Obria PNW and the women they serve.  

Attorney General Ferguson is exploiting his position of power to diminish ideals in opposition to his own. This has set an example for a different attorney general on the East Coast.  

NJ Attorney General Follows Suit

In November of 2023, New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin launched an investigation into First Choice Women’s Resource Centers, another group of Christian pregnancy centers serving New Jersey’s pregnant mothers, mothers of newborns, and fathers.  

The probe is very similar to Attorney General Ferguson’s, alleging that the pregnancy centers may be misinforming the public about abortion pill reversal. It demanded much of the same information ordered by Washington’s top law enforcement officer.  

Like Ferguson, Attorney General Platkin has repeatedly expressed contempt for pro-life groups, calling them “extremists attempting to stop those from seeking the reproductive health care they need.” And just months into his tenure as acting Attorney General, Platkin established a “Reproductive Rights Strike Force” in his office.  

Unconstitutional Targeting

Both Attorneys’ General actions against the pregnancy centers violate the U.S. Constitution in several ways:  

  • The Attorneys General have tried to chill both centers’ pro-life speech, which is a clear violation of the First Amendment. This freedom is essential when debating contentious matters, such as abortion. Regulating the content of speech “poses the inherent risk that the government seeks not to advance a legitimate regulatory goal, but to suppress unpopular ideas or information,” the U.S. Supreme Court articulated in 2018’s NIFLA v. Becerra.
  • The subpoenas are being used to punish the centers’ religious beliefs and convictions about life. Another evident breach of the First Amendment, which forbids religious hostility.  
  • The subpoenas violate the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures, which “requires that [a] subpoena be sufficiently limited in scope, relevant in purpose, and specific in directive so that compliance will not be unreasonably burdensome,” the U.S. Supreme Court noted in 1967’s See v. City of Seattle.  

The job of an Attorney General is to uphold—not undermine—these foundational rights. That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the two pregnancy centers in separate lawsuits against the Attorneys General of Washington and New Jersey.  

We’re suing to remind two of the country’s top attorneys of the law they have a duty to protect and uphold. But more importantly, we are defending Obria PNW and First Choice Women’s Resource Centers so they can keep serving the women and men in their communities, and defend the unborn.  

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