Saturday 1 November 2014

Crisis Pregnancy Centres in Canada (part of an ongoing series)

There is no disagreement about what a crisis pregnancy centre is.

A crisis pregnancy center (CPC), sometimes called a pregnancy resource center (PRC), is a type of non-profit organization established to counsel pregnant women against having an abortion.

In fact, so notorious are CPCs for their anti-choice agenda they are rebranding themselves with variants of the words "life," "choice," "options" and so on in their titles. The subject of a recent blogpost on public funding for CPCs in Ontario is known both as Lambton Crisis Pregnancy Centre and as The Pregnancy Options and Support Centre.

We've had some response from the granting agency, Ontario Trillium Foundation, and we'll get to that in future post.

For now, let's take a look at what CPCs actually do.

First off, what they do is significantly different from what they say they do.

They say they offer counselling and education about "crisis" or unplanned pregnancies. They say they offer non-judgemental support for all options. They say they provide accurate and complete information about all aspects of pregnancy and possible outcomes.

That's bullshit.

What they do has been documented in countless undercover investigations and revelations from former workers and volunteers.

Here's a recent investigation from the US on How Crisis Pregnancy Centers Lie to Women to Stop Abortion. Here's another from BC in 2012 and a recent one from Texas. Google "undercover crisis pregnancy investigation." There are tons of them.

Here's an undercover report by The Star on a fake clinic in Toronto from 2010. And here's another of the same clinic from 2012.

The reason undercover investigations are necessary is because CPCs have gotten a lot smarter about what they reveal in their online presence, particularly after the 2007 brouhaha over the Ottawa Senators hockey team support for such an outfit in a Christmas charity. (We have a blogpost in the hopper revisiting the highlights of that schmozzle. I'll link when it's up. Link.)

No longer do their websites include links to bogus organizations claiming that abortion causes breast cancer, abortion causes addiction and mental illness, abortion causes infertility, et fucking cetera. All of those lies have been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked, so CPCs do not publicly link to them anymore.

But in the actual clinic, with an actual live, vulnerable pregnant and possibly already shit-scared woman there, those lies come burbling back up.

In fact, some "counsellors" can get very creative in the crap they spew. (Some undercover investigators report finding it really really hard not to burst out laughing.)

They lie, they distort, they manipulate.

Because their only purpose is to stop abortion. All the rest is window dressing.

After the 2010 Star investigation, a reporter contacted the Ontario ministry of health to ask what the heck officials intended to do about this abuse of patients' trust.
The provincial health ministry has no immediate plans to crack down on pregnancy resource centres that often use misinformation to discourage women from choosing abortion without always disclosing their pro-life perspective.

“We don’t fund them, so we don’t have a lot of oversight on them,” said Andrew Morrison, a spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care. “As with these types of things that are sort of outside the ministry purview, it is ‘buyer, beware’ and a matter of people doing a bit of homework.”

A Star investigation published Aug. 7 found that charitable organizations called crisis pregnancy centres often give out misleading or untrue information about the physical and psychological risks of abortion under the guise of options counselling to women facing unplanned pregnancies.
Beyond the purview of the Ministry of Health because they don't FUND them.

A comment from a pro-choice advocate in the article:
“These people are accountable to no one,” [Maria Corsillo, manager of the Scott (abortion) Clinic] said of the pregnancy centres, which often have codes of ethics but are not subject to any oversight beyond what is required of registered charities.
Ethics? Ms Corsillo is being overly kind there, but she hits the nail on the head.

Charitable status. That's all that's required to get tax-free dough from their supporters. And, it seems, FUNDING from the gambling population of Ontario courtesy of the Ontario government's Trillium Foundation. (I'll link when that post is up. Link.)

Odd, innit? No oversight from the Ontario Ministry of Health because no FUNDING. But FUNDING from Ontario Trillium Foundation despite no oversight.

We have more to say.

UPDATE: Ontario Trillium Foundation responds to our questions about the Lambton Crisis Pregnancy Centre grant. Upshot: grant rescinded!

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