Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers Challenge Vermont Law to Stop Them From Saving Babies


Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys will be available for media interviews Thursday following federal district court oral arguments in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Clark. In the case, ADF attorneys represent National Institute of Family and Life Advocates and two pregnancy care centers challenging Vermont state officials for unconstitutionally restricting the centers’ speech and provision of services.

Last May, Gov. Phil Scott signed SB 37 into law, impeding the ability of pro-life pregnancy centers to continue providing help and support to Vermont women and families. The law censors the centers’ ability to advertise their services. It also precludes the ability of centers to offer even non-medical services, information, and counseling unless provided by a licensed health care provider. ADF attorneys filed a lawsuit on behalf of the pro-life pregnancy centers in July.

“Women who become unexpectedly pregnant should know they have life-affirming options available to them, from emotional support to practical resources,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “Vermont’s law, however, robs women of these options—it impedes women’s ability to receive critical services during a difficult time in their lives and suppresses the free-speech rights of faith-based pregnancy centers. Pregnancy centers should be free to serve women and offer the support they need without fear of unjust government punishment. We are urging the court to support the rights of these critical care services.”

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NIFLA is a religious nonprofit that provides pro-life pregnancy center members with legal resources and counsel, with the aim of developing a network of life-affirming ministries in every community across the nation. NIFLA has six member facilities in Vermont, including Aspire Now and Branches Pregnancy Resource Center, two faith-based pregnancy centers that have joined the lawsuit.

The Vermont law specifically targets pro-life pregnancy centers as “limited services” providers because they do not refer or perform abortions. Under the law, the state attorney general has the authority to fine pregnancy centers up to $10,000 if she believes its life-affirming messages are misleading.

The law applies only to pro-life pregnancy centers—an abortion clinic that provides identical information would not be subject to the law. Also, the law does not define “misleading,” so it is left up to the discretion of the attorney general.

Further, Vermont’s law precludes the ability of centers to offer even non-medical services, information, and counseling unless provided by a licensed health care provider. This restriction harms pregnancy centers by preventing their non-medical staff and volunteers from providing clients with any information related to pregnancy and counseling clients about their options. It also prevents non-medical pregnancy centers, like Branches, from providing women with information or counseling about pregnancy without hiring medical staff.

ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Clark, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont.

Las Vegas News Magazine

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