Ben Johnson

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New York attorney general subpoenas crisis pregnancy center leader

Ben Johnson
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NEW YORK, May 29, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Crisis pregnancy centers are under fire in the state of New York, and nationwide, according to the national director of Expectant Mother Care (EMC) FrontLine Pregnancy Centers.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has issued a subpoena against Chris Slattery, EMC's national director, for not abiding by the terms of a consent agreement Slattery thought expired more than 20 years ago.

Just two years after EMC's founding, State Attorney General Robert Abrahms sued EMC and two other NYC crisis pregnancy centers for allegedly practicing medicine without a license, and false and misleading advertising. Pro-abortion organizations like Planned Parenthood and NARAL routinely make such accusations against crisis pregnancy centers for running ads offering support for women in crisis pregnancies, without explicitly stating that they don't refer for abortion.

Slattery, then a newly married man who only worked part-time with his pregnancy center, says he signed a1987 consent judgement out of fear of prosecution – but he thought it expired when Abrahms left office.

The judgment required EMC staff to tell patients up front they do not perform nor refer women for abortions and are not a medical facility. EMC has stopped abiding by its terms long ago without repercussions, until now.

Schneiderman also accuses EMC of administering ultrasounds without proper oversight. Slattery says those allegations are bogus, although some of EMC's paperwork may have been out of order.

Ultrasound technicians “have to operate under the supervision of a physician. We have that supervision,” Slattery said, noting EMC has partnerships with doctors in all four boroughs of New York City and is affiliated with two hospitals, one in Brooklyn and one in the Bronx.

Schneiderman's late father, Irwin, sat on the board of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

The renewed interest comes as lawmakers in Albany and Washington are setting their sights on crisis pregnancy centers in new bills that would mandate all CPCs make disclaimers like those forced on Slattery 26 years ago.

Shortly after EMC received the new subpoena, agents with the FBI's Joint Domestic Terrorism Task Force said they wanted to question Slattery and establish a “mutually beneficial relationship.” (See related story.)

“I think that his whole effort is aimed at intimidating pregnancy centers from expanding, from advertising its services to women who are considering abortions,” Slattery said. “It's all aimed at killing abortion facility competition.”

“They want to get the Christians out of health care and out of compassionate, Good Samaritan work,” Slattery told LifeSiteNews.com. “I think if we don't resist these kind of speech regulations, we are going to live in a completely totalitarian state that is going to further and further encroach on our freedoms, and I won't stand for it.”

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Not only is the state trying to get women away from pregnancy centers, but it's trying to keep protesters away from abortionists. EMC maintains a mobile ultrasound unit outside a South Bronx abortion facility. Also “coincidental with the attorney general subpoena,” Slattery said the NYPD chose to “post one to three armed New York City police officers there, in addition to one to three security guards that they already have.”

“We've never had anyone arrested there in seven-and-a-half years,” Slattery said. “They leave them there just to intimidate us.”

The newest round of accusations may be the abortion industry's form of damage control. “I think these actions come partly in retaliation for the long and damaging Kermit Gosnell trial, which really hurt the image of the abortion industry,” Slattery told LifeSiteNews. “We're seeing a backlash here in New York, especially, to punish those of us who are leading in lifesaving and defense of babies.”

“I strongly believe they want nothing less than to shut us down,” he said.

All laws requiring crisis pregnancy centers to erect signage or make certain disclaimers about themselves – passed in Baltimore, New York, and Austin – have been ruled unconstitutional, although additional cases are pending.

“They have the temerity to push it when the regulations are unconstitutional,” Slattery said. “Honestly, maybe they've had a tip within the federal court that they're about to win.”

If he loses his pending case before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Slattery says he will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. But he is uncertain he could get a stay of the appeals court ruling.

The Fourth Circuit Appeals Court decided to hear a case related to a Baltimore statute en banc. The Second Circuit may be awaiting that decision.

Slattery told LifeSiteNews, win or lose, “We're not going to relinquish our First Amendment speech rights to government control.”

Scheiderman's is the fourth subpoena in EMC's 28-year history. When he was state attorney general, Elliott Spitzer issued two subpoenas against the group in 2002, along with a number of other pregnancy centers statewide. But the centers' pro-life legal team prevailed, and Spitzer went on to infamy.

“No woman has ever been harmed, and no woman has ever sued us,” Slattery said. “Over 42,000 mothers have chosen life who would have otherwise aborted because we offered free ultrasounds, windows to the womb, and secured very quick prenatal care appointments for them with our partner physicians.”

The danger, Slattery said, is that New York City – which already has an abortion rate of 40 percent – could become a mecca for abortion if Governor Andrew Cuomo has his way.

“We're looking at dangerous conditions coming to New York as they're trying to completely crush pregnancy centers at the same time they're expanding opportunities for more abortions,” he said.

Crisis pregnancy centers like his do a “great service to the community, reducing pregnancies, reducing STDs, increasing marriage, making raising children a happier [and] healthier profession, and hopefully making it a better world.”

Regardless of the federal, state, and local pressure, Slattery talks like a man unbowed.

“I've been fighting hard in relatiation to their efforts for well over 25 years, and I'm not about to go under without a fight,” he said.

For more information, visit Slattery's websites, EMCfrontlines.org and ProLifeInterns.org

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