AMHERST, NY – At the same time, CompassCare Pregnancy Services CEO Jim Harden is working with local and federal authorities to resolve a firebomb attack last month on one of the organization’s outdoor centers of Buffalo, his legal team is preparing for an investigation into his practices by the New York State Health Commissioner, a decision he considers “unethical and very unfair targeting.”
When The Tablet spoke to Harden about the two investigations on June 23, he was confident those responsible would be brought to justice. As for the state’s investigation, however, its only certainty as to how it will proceed is that the organization will not comply.
“[The state] can’t just weaponize the legislature against us,” Harden said. ‘If we’ve done something wrong they should use the justice system, that’s how it’s designed and that’s how it should be used,’ adding ‘nothing is out of place’ in terms of response.
The looming investigation — which Harden said the organization has not yet been contacted about — stems from new pro-abortion legislation signed by New York Governor Kathy Hochul on June 13, which directs the Commissioner of New York State Department of Health to conduct a study and release a report examining the unmet health and resource needs faced by pregnant women in New York City, and the impact of pregnancy centers to “limited services”.
In the text of the legislation, limited-service pregnancy centers are, in part, defined as pregnancy centers that fail to “provide the full range of comprehensive reproductive and sexual health services under the Medicaid program of state”, including abortion, contraception, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, and prenatal care.
For the study, State Health Commissioner Mary Bassett can request and “receive upon request” a wide range of information from the centers, including financial records, services provided and how often, demographic information about patients, data specific to abortion services, and what information is given to clients.
Hochul argues that the survey and resulting study “ensure that New Yorkers have access to the information and resources needed to have healthy pregnancies with positive outcomes.”
Harden isn’t the only one pushing back the investigation. The New York State Catholic Conference, before Hochul signed the legislation, released a memorandum of objection alleging that the study will be conducted with the predetermined outcome that so-called “limited-service” pregnancy centers are too limited in denying women access to abortion. .
“By labeling pro-life pregnancy centers as ‘limited-service pregnancy centers,’ it appears the intent of the bill is to intimidate, silence, and shut down pro-life pregnancy centers,” says the NYSCC statement. “A state that prides itself on being ‘pro-choice’ should not take legislative action to hinder choice in childbirth.”
On June 7, a week before Hochul ordered the study of some state pregnancy centers, the CompassCare Center in the Buffalo suburb of Amherst, New York, was set on fire and defaced with pro-abortion graffiti that said “Jane was here” – the label for the Jane’s Revenge organization which carried out similar acts across the country to protest the overthrow of Roe v. Wade.
The attack caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, Harden said, adding that reconstruction efforts began on June 11, with an “aggressive” goal of reopening the facility and serving patients again on June 29. July. He said they were even rebuilding the establishment bigger. , and will take steps to strengthen security at both the Buffalo site and the Rochester site.
“We’re excited, morale is high,” Harden said, adding that while the investigation has moved slowly, he’s “confident” the Amherst Police Department and FBI will find the culprit.
In the meantime, Harden said CompassCare is unwavering in its commitment to serving pregnant women.
“We’re going to keep going and we’re not going to stop,” Harden said. “They wanted to scare us. They did not succeed. They wanted us to stop serving women who are seriously considering abortion and we’re not going to because it’s so important.