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Dem Rep. Josh Gottheimer in front of Lighthouse Pregnancy Center at his Oct. 6 anti-pregnancy help press conference Dem Rep. Josh Gottheimer in front of Lighthouse Pregnancy Center at his Oct. 6 anti-pregnancy help press conference Gottheimer.house.gov

Dem Congressman targets New Jersey pregnancy centers with falsehoods

A New Jersey pregnancy center was the backdrop for a Democrat U.S. Congressman’s press conference bashing the center’s programs calling them “anti-choice clinics,” and “brainwashing cult clinics.”

Rep. Josh Gottheimer of the New Jersey Fifth District slammed centers like Lighthouse Pregnancy Center when he stood in front of the center’s Hackensack office.

Gottheimer staged the Oct. 6 press conference without warning, said Lighthouse Executive Director Debbie Provencher. 

Provencher said she was tipped off to the event when a member of the media contacted her in advance of the press conference to request a response. It is unclear why their center was targeted and chosen as the site of the media event, Provencher said, but she attended the press conference and even asked questions of the lawmaker without identifying herself as Lighthouse staff.

Those in attendance consisted of two female Democrat Bergen County Commissioners, four policemen, members of the media and two other unidentified individuals, Provencher said. 

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Gottheimer took the podium after the commissioners verbally attacked evangelicals, Provencher said. He was not shy in admitting his goal is to permanently close pregnancy centers in New Jersey. 

In a press release, Gottheimer said: 

“Employees at more than 50 crisis pregnancy centers across New Jersey, including the one behind me, lie about the risks associated with abortion, use aggressive tactics to manipulate women into changing their minds based on no medical information, and deceive women into thinking they’re too far along to legally get the care they need.”

Gottheimer is also leading the Stop Anti-abortion Disinformation Act introduced in the U.S. House in April last year. 

His press release on that effort said:

“This legislation directs the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit mis and dis-information related to abortion services and authorizes the FTC to penalize organizations that break this rule.” Gottheimer said he “proudly” introduced the “Freedom to Decide Act.” This act, the press release stated, is meant to “to protect doctor-prescribed access to the abortion pill and support telemedicine across state lines.”

During the October press conference in Hackensack, Gottheimer repeatedly accused pregnancy centers in the state of having no licensed medical staff.

Provencher was able to comment to him that she “knows for a fact” that there are licensed nurses and sonographers that work for Lighthouse Pregnancy Center. Gottheimer replied by saying that his research showed otherwise. 

“What he didn’t know was that we had an ultrasound going on inside at the same time,” Provencher said. 

The latest comprehensive assessment of U.S. pregnancy centers from the Charlotte Lozier Institute found that among the nearly 15,000 staff and almost 54,000 volunteers serving at the more than 2,700 pregnancy centers in all 50 U.S. states, there are 10,200 licensed medical professionals. And along with the many services provided pregnancy centers, medical services among them, not only do pregnancy centers give honest, substantiated, information and compassionate care to women for their pregnancy, pregnancy centers have an exceedingly high client satisfaction rate.

Provencher described the attack of her centers and others in the state as “incredulous.”

“We have 73 positive Google reviews and a 4.9 rating out of five for that location,” she said. 

Provencher described the situation in her state since Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022. 

“(Democrats) are going beyond pro-choice,” she said. “They are pro-abortion.” 

The state’s attorney general, Democrat Matthew Platkin, created a two-page alert to “warn” consumers against pregnancy centers in December of 2022. 

The consumer alert suggested centers do not provide healthcare.

“Six or seven centers like ours formed a consortium and we (legally) asked the state, ‘do you have any evidence?’” said Provencher.

The hearing on that case ended in favor of the pregnancy centers. 

The NJ Consortium of Pregnancy Centers released a statement about Gottheimer’s appearance and addressed the battle with the state attorney general. S. Dan Bleyker is the attorney representing the Consortium. The statement said in part:

“These State officials and Rep. Gottheimer are unfairly attacking local nonprofit charitable organizations – who primarily help our state’s women and families in their time of need – in a politically-charged over-reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs.”

“Having a non-profit charged with an alert is unique,” Provencher said, since all services are free.

A video of Gottheimer during the press conference in front of Lighthouse’s office on social media was “inflammatory,” Provencher said, and she feels it put her staff and clients at risk. 

“We opened (Hackensack location) in 2011. We have served 5,300 individuals since then and are open five to six days a week,” she said. “We do exit surveys with every client, and we have received no complaints.” 

Clients and family members of clients jumped on social media to respond to Gottheimer directly.

“There were 151 comments and most of them were positive and in our favor,” Provencher said. 

“One mother of a client told Gottheimer “shame on you” and noted her teen daughter benefited from the services at the clinic,” said Provencher. “She stated her grandchild was now nine years old and suggested Gottheimer make his accusations to that child whose life was saved.”

Tweet This: Democrats are going beyond pro-choice. They are pro-abortion.

Provencher has been executive director for Lighthouse Pregnancy Center for 17 years. The pregnancy help center has gone from one small office to four, with medical staff at each location. She noted the center has a positive relationship with other agencies and nonprofits in the community, including the local hospital which refers patients to their centers. She also made note of the fact that this year has been a “record” year for the number of ultrasounds, surpassing the 2022 record of 946 scans in one year. 

Lighthouse offers abortion recovery for women and men and is aiming to continue to shed light on the dark mistruths about pregnancy centers, Provencher said.

Provencher admitted she felt she was naïve for many years in assuming politicians presented facts and made true statements to support their agenda. She said she was reminded last month of how false the narrative can be.

“I’m praying for Representative Gottheimer,” she said. “I’m praying he sees the truth. We want to share God’s love with each person we encounter.”

Tabitha Goodling

Tabitha Goodling has been writing for media outlets for more than 20 years in her home state of Pennsylvania. She has served as a client services manager at her local pregnancy center since 2018. She and her husband are raising four teenage daughters, which include a set of triplets.

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