Warren War on Crisis Pregnancy Centers Continues With New Accusations
Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s letter to Heartbeat International is the latest move in her targeting of pro-life pregnancy centers.
In July, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., declared of pro-life crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) that “we need to shut them down all around the country,” and her targeting of these groups, which provide resources to women in difficult situations, continued this week with a letter to the pro-life pregnancy center network Heartbeat International. She accused the group of “luring pregnant people — many in desperate situations — to affiliate CPC facilities by using a variety of false and misleading tactics,” and collecting “personal health care information” which “may be used to put women’s health and freedom to choose in jeopardy, and to put them and their health care providers at risk of criminal penalties.”
In the missive, she wrote, “While your organization and many of its affiliate CPCs claim to adhere to HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] to protect patients’ health information, it does not disclose how it is using the data it collects, whether it is keeping personal information secure, and whether it intends to do so in the future.” She asked a series of questions regarding the network’s data collection, including whether the group has “ever shared people’s data with law enforcement.”
Heartbeat International President Jor-El Godsey responded to the letter with a statement on Tuesday, calling it “naked politics intended not to help women but to influence elections.” He called the letter “unfounded speculation” and wrote that “what we do is safe, secure, and legal. Heartbeat has been providing help for more than 50 years and never once did we receive any of these questions or concerns until recently, and then from those with a clear abortion agenda. It’s politics, and we regret only that it’s a distraction to our important work of helping women find alternatives to abortion.”
Heartbeat International spokeswoman Andrea Trudden told Time magazine in June that “any information that we publish and pull is just numbers, so we’re not looking at any of that [personal] information.”
This letter is Warren’s latest move in her targeting of pro-life pregnancy centers, as she introduced a bill in July claiming pregnancy centers engage in “deceptive tactics” and introducing fines and penalties for “misleading statements,” not defined in the bill, related to abortion. At the time, she said, the groups “are there to fool people who are looking for pregnancy termination,” saying, “you should not be able to torture a pregnant person like that."
National Review’s John McCormack asked Warren in July for examples of what would be considered prohibited “disinformation” under her bill. She replied, “The point is for these centers to make clear up front that they’re not there to provide abortions; they’re there to prevent people from having abortions and they provide no abortion services.”
Many pro-life pregnancy centers feature disclosures on their websites that they do not provide abortions. Warren would not say whether this would protect them from fines. She also seemed to think pregnancy centers were copying Planned Parenthood. “If [pregnancy centers] are trying to mimic Planned Parenthood’s colors and Planned Parenthood’s logo and to imply to the public that if you come here, you could get abortion services, I think that’s a real problem,” she added.
Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, a cosponsor of the bill who also signed Warren’s recent letter, couldn’t say what constituted misinformation either, but said “at these kinds of pregnancy whatever centers, that they can be told [a] different kind of information, like, ‘Abortion causes something or other’ — that those are not true. That kind of thing.” She didn’t know if an advertisement saying “Pregnant? Need help?” or “Considering abortion? Need help?” constituted a “misleading” statement if a center didn’t perform abortions.
On the Senate floor in August, Warren called for “protecting patients from the deceptive practices of some so-called ‘crisis pregnancy centers.’”
Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, a pro-life obstetrician, responded to her speech by saying, “The fraud and the deception is occurring in the abortion clinics,” recounting from his own experience “story after story of patients — crying in my office, who went to Planned Parenthood for a pregnancy test and were scheduled for an abortion — coming to my office wondering, ‘Do I have to do this abortion?’”
He added that “these women aren't being told about the potential complications of these abortion procedures. They’re not being told that these abortion pills are going to cause pain and cramping and bleeding, that they could end up in the emergency room as well.” He also referenced Warren’s use of the term “reproductive services,” saying, “You’re afraid to say the word ‘abortion’ in these clinics. That’s the fraud and deception. This isn’t reproductive services. These are abortions. This is taking the life of the unborn.”
Warren’s targeting of pregnancy centers comes at a time when a large number of them have been vandalized by pro-abortion groups in the wake of the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Republican Reps. Chris Smith of New Jersey and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington introduced a bill Tuesday requiring the Biden administration to report on its investigation of these attacks as well as identify funding for security measures.