Saturday, 13 January 2018

Strip All Anti-Choice Orgs of Charitable Status

Last week, Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) released more results of an ongoing investigation by volunteers into the public filings by anti-choice groups.

These filings are required by the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) in order for organizations to maintain their very valuable charitable status.

ARCC reported details on the (deliberate?) errors and omissions by many such charities especially in reporting revenues from the now controversial Canada Summer Jobs program. These errors have been reported to CRA.

I'll have more to say about that in another post.


Here is ARCC's Joyce Arthur on the matter:
“No anti-abortion agency should be registered as a charity,”said Joyce Arthur, ExecutiveDirector of ARCC." The mission and activities of anti-choice groups are inherently political and biased, which should disqualify them from charitable status. They work to stigmatize abortion, constrain individuals’ access to it, and ultimately to recriminalize it. They seek to subvert the Charter rights of Canadians through deception and misinformation.”

Here is ARCC's position paper on charitable status.

I completely agree, but I've been nosing around the CRA's website section on "Charities and giving", specifically its "public benefit test" part.

First, there are four allowable "charitable purposes." (Click to embiggen.)

Note that "advancement of religion" is okey-dokey all on its own. (Except the barbaric Moooslim religion, of course.)

There are disqualifying factors under the public benefit test.

"Purposes that are contrary to public policy" is a disqualifying factor. Like advocating and working to ban what is now considered -- by law and public policy -- the right to abortion?

Or, as the Prime Minister said, such activity is “is not in line with where we are as a government and, quite frankly, where we are at as a society.”

More on the benefit test.

What is "socially useful" about lying to, shaming and manipulating people out of exercising a human right?

Several more interesting things about public benefit.

Harmful? Boy howdy. These gangs attempt to scare people out of abortion by lying about long-discredited links between abortion and breast cancer, substance abuse, depression, suicide, infertility, etc.

And the relationship between agency and client? When public documents speak about prospective targets as "abortion-minded" or not, when other (no longer public) documents speak about tactics to humiliate and frighten, when sneaky moves like burning baby powder-scented candles in fake clinics' waiting rooms. . . . it's not exactly a respectful and helping relationship.

Next bit on "concerns raised" gives the example of a health clinic using controversial alternative therapies.

Well, how about pretending to be a health clinic? And giving out misinformation and lies under that aegis?

There's more about "tangible" benefits (like some used baby clothes?), conflict between public benefit and "some negative effect" (state-sanctioned lying might be considered a negative), but I'll cut to the chase.

Many of these regulations are based in precedent. If something has been deemed charitable in the past, it's likely to pass now.

Except CRA does recognize that such public benefits might change over time.

In the past, counselling, even shaming "unwed mothers" might have been considered a public benefit, but now? Where is the public benefit in dissuading people from accessing a perfectly legal, safe medical procedure?

It's time to strip all anti-choice agencies of charitable status. As the PM says, they're free to believe anything they want, but when it comes to actively working against settled Canadian law and policy, they should be on their own.

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