A group of Christian pro-life pregnancy centers have filed a suit in federal district court against Washington state Attorney General Robert Ferguson, alleging unconstitutional harassment by the state.
Obria Group, Inc., a multistate network of pregnancy centers, and Obria Pacific Northwest, a group of three centers in the state of Washington, claim that Ferguson has demanded that the centers turn over “privileged or irrelevant materials to advance an investigation that is not based on a complaint or other reason to suspect unlawful activity, and which selectively and unlawfully target” the centers.
The legal complaint points out Ferguson’s close ties to the abortion industry, his fervent advocacy for abortion and his pronouncements of hostility toward pro-life pregnancy centers. It claims that Ferguson’s demands for documents and other information have been overbroad and have been made “under the pretense of conducting a civil investigation into ‘possible’ violations of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act relating to the handling of patient data and statements they have made about abortion pill reversal,” a service the centers do not provide.
Ferguson demanded information about the centers’ contractors, volunteers and tax preparers; complete agendas and minutes of every meeting of the board of directors; documents sent to donors; employee compensation and retirement policies; documents detailing payments and in-kind transfers from affiliates; all tax forms; and more, from 2010 to present.
According to the complaint, the centers have provided Ferguson with more than 1,500 pages of documents, but Ferguson has continued to demand more.
His demands, the complaint alleges, violate several constitutional freedoms under the First, Fourth and 14th Amendments, causing the centers to spend time and money responding to them “for no apparent reason other than their disfavored views.”
“Our clients have already expended exorbitant time and financial resources trying to comply with the unreasonable demands made by Washington’s attorney general, and we urge the court to swiftly halt his unlawful actions,” said Tim Garrison, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the pregnancy centers.
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