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Caring Families Pregnancy Services Inc. v. City of Hartford (Connecticut)

(D. Conn. No. 3:19-cv-00584)

Pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) are organizations that provide counseling and other services to people facing unplanned pregnancies.  Often, PRCs are opposed to abortion and utilize deceptive practices to delay and discourage their clients from having abortions.  Many PRCs present themselves as healthcare facilities but do not employ licensed medical professionals to provide or supervise pregnancy tests, ultrasound examinations, and other medical services.  These fake clinics pose a threat to the health and well-being of pregnant patrons, delaying their access to real medical care and denying them information about all of their options.

On December 11, 2017, the City of Hartford, Connecticut, enacted an Ordinance requiring any PRC that operates within the City to “disclose if it does not have a licensed medical provider on the premises who provides or directly supervises the provision of all medical services” that the PRC provides.  Hartford Mun. Code, § 17-163(a).  The Ordinance also prohibits PRCs from engaging in “false, misleading, or deceptive” advertising.  Hartford Mun. Code, § 17-164.  The Ordinance took effect on October 1, 2018.

A roving PRC operating under the name “Mobile Care” challenged the Ordinance in federal court, claiming that the First Amendment grants PRCs the right to impersonate medical professionals.  The Lawyering Project represents the City of Hartford for the purpose of defending its Ordinance against this meritless lawsuit.

Hartford’s Ordinance is a commonsense consumer protection measure designed to stop PRCs like Mobile Care from engaging in false advertising and passing off their peer counselors as licensed medical professionals.  Such deceptive practices are an affront to the dignity of pregnant people, depriving them of timely access to medical care and undermining their trust in the medical community.

Following the completion of discovery, the parties cross-moved for summary judgment.  Before the court ruled on the motions, the parties reached a settlement agreement that enabled the Ordinance to remain in full force and effect.  As a result, this case is now over, and the Ordinance is still on the books. 

Plaintiffs:

Caring Families Pregnancy Services Inc. d/b/a Mobile Care

Defendant:

City of Hartford

Co-counsel:

Hartford Office of Corporation Counsel; Yale Law School Reproductive Rights and Justice Project

Timeline and Key Documents:

April 18, 2019

Plaintiff files Complaint

May 21, 2019

City files Answer to Complaint

June 27, 2019

District court enters Case Management Plan

May 5, 2020

Parties complete discovery 

May 19, 2020

Parties file cross-motions for summary judgment 

June 8, 2020

Case stayed for settlement negotiations  

July 22, 2020

Parties enter a Settlement Agreement

August 7, 2020

District court enters Order dismissing the case pursuant to the settlement agreement