Pro-life nuns celebrate win against New York probe: ‘Government never should have done that’

Pro-life nuns in New York City are celebrating their win against a New York statute that would’ve required them to hand over private information to the state.

“For us, in our work of serving pregnant women, it was definitely a threat,” Sr. Maris Stella, Vicar General of the Sisters of Life told Fox News Digital. “And we are grateful for this victory that protects our right to continue to uphold the women that we’re serving.”

Sisters of Life was one of several pregnancy centers targeted by a spate of New York laws centered on abortion in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned by the Supreme Court. At the time, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul authorized the health commissioner to investigate whether crisis pregnancy centers, which do not offer referrals for abortion, were coercing women with inaccurate information in order for them to continue their pregnancies. 

The pro-life group sued the state in September of 2022, arguing the law required “intrusive and burdensome disclosure requirements,” based on the pro-life center’s unwillingness to offer abortion referrals. Last week, New York officials agreed to comply with a federal court order not to investigate the group.

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Mark Rienzi, President and CEO of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, argued the law was clearly unconstitutional and looked like the state was picking on “political opponents.”

“The government never should have done that and had no good reason to do that,” Rienzi, who served as counsel for the religious group, said. 

“There’s no allegation of wrongdoing. There’s no allegation of [a] crime. It’s just the government demands to look through all of your documents,” he told Fox News Digital.

Sr. Maris Stella said the probe would’ve violated their trust and relationships with the women they care for at the center.

The Catholic sisters, who have devoted their lives to serving women and their children, provide the needy with baby items, housing, health care, counseling, legal advice, employment, education and even handy-man services. 

“We respect women who come to us. We respect their decision for life,” she explained. “For decades we have been supporting them in that in every way we can through free housing, clothes, diapers, medical, legal, social services. And we just want to continue to be able to do that… and we want to ensure that vulnerable children are able to come to life and that they have access to all the love and care that they need.”

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Rienzi said public opinion polls show that many women are pressured into having abortions simply because they feel they won’t be able to support a child. Because the state decided to back off from investigating the group, the sisters will continue to be able to help these women, he said.

“There are many, many women who want the help and who are delighted to get the help from people like the Sisters of Life. And they just need the freedom to be able to to meet these women, to love these women, to offer them help without the government trying to stop them or interfere,” Rienzi added.

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