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ADF to HHS: Protect Connecticut pro-life ministry from city’s discrimination

Complaint asks agency to enforce federal law, address Hartford’s violation of Caring Families’ conscience rights, religious beliefs
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HARTFORD, Conn. – Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom filed a complaint Tuesday with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights to report discrimination against a life-affirming, faith-based pregnancy care center. The complaint challenges government censorship and coercion resulting from a city of Hartford law.

In October 2018, Hartford enacted an ordinance that forces Caring Families and its affiliated mobile care ministry to make compelled statements using signs inside and outside the facility, on its website, and in telephone conversations with clients. In April, ADF attorneys filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Caring Families, arguing that the city’s compelled statements are a violation of the First Amendment and incorrectly imply that the nonprofit is unqualified to provide the range of free services it offers to clients. The ADF complaint filed with HHS explains that the city of Hartford, a recipient of federal funding, is violating federal law by subjecting the pro-life ministry to unlawful discrimination.

“The city of Hartford has no business steering women away from life-affirming help,” said ADF Legal Counsel Denise Harle. “Caring Families exists to help ensure that no woman feels alone, hopeless, or without options during an unexpected pregnancy, and the city shouldn’t be using the force of law to make this pro-life care provider imply through its own communications that it is anything but competent and tolerant. Federal laws protect against this kind of ideologically driven harassment. That’s why we’re asking HHS to protect pregnancy centers from hostile regulation that singles them out.”

The federal Church and Weldon amendments do not allow states which receive federal funding to compel medical personnel to operate contrary to their conscience or religious beliefs. Over the years, ADF has filed complaints with OCR and, based on those complaints, HHS has investigated discrimination against ADF clients in HawaiiNew York, and California. In January 2018, HHS created the Division on Conscience and Religious Freedom within OCR to address growing concerns over government overreach and freedom of religion and conscience.

  • Pronunciation guide: Harle (HAR'-lee)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.


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