The internet has been called the information superhighway, but every savvy web-surfer knows you can’t believe everything you read. A national ministry aiding and supporting Canadian pregnancy centers says this is especially true of a 2009 report by a leading abortion activist that slams crisis pregnancy centers in British Columbia as “fake clinics.”
“The report is replete with inaccuracies and false allegations. Readers are at risk of being misled when they need clear and accurate facts,” Brian Norrton, author of a new 50-page rebuttal to the report, told LifeSiteNews.
Norton, a board member of the Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services (CAPSS), said the pregnancy centers are “wrongly accused,” adding that “everyone, including pro-choice groups, can be misled by the report.” He is asking that the report be deleted from the internet.
The report by abortion activist Joyce Arthur, titled “Exposing Crisis Pregnancy Centres in British Columbia,” accused the centers of terrorizing and deceiving women. An Access to Information request revealed it was funded with a $27,400 grant from the federal Liberal government in 2004-2005.
The Christian Advocacy Society of Greater Vancouver, which runs two local clinics, sued Arthur in 2012 for defamation. But B.C.’s Supreme Court sided with Arthur in 2013, ruling that the report was not defamatory since it only mentioned the centers indirectly.
Norton told LifeSiteNews that he is pursuing justice by responding to Arthur’s report with a “detailed and fully referenced” rebuttal.
“The report makes numerous claims that are not based in fact or reality. The following are some blatant examples,” begins the 55-page rebuttal published online at the end of June and titled A Respectful Rebuttal to a Disrespectful Report.
In the rebuttal, Norton identifies eight “serious allegations” in Arthur's report and 12 “silly allegations,” all based on scrupulous research including interviews with medical professionals.
Among the eight “serious allegations,” Norton takes issue with Arthur’s claim that the centers “lie about being religiously-affiliated” so as to not deter women from entering the centers.
The claim is outright false, he says. While not all pregnancy centers are faith-based, the ones that are — including CAPSS affiliates, which Norton represents — make it clear in their brochures and on their website that they are a “Christ-centered national ministry.”
The beliefs of the faith-based centers are “not imposed upon clients, as the report alleges,” the rebuttal states.
Another “serious allegation” with which Norton takes issue is Arthur’s claim that the centers “hide their true agenda and deceive women,” enticing them into the office “under the pretence they will help [them] with an abortion.”
This again is false, he wrote. “CPCs [Crisis Pregnancy Centers] never suggest to potential clients that they will help them secure an abortion.”
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“As a safeguard for any possible, unintentional misunderstanding – before a client obtains services – she or he reads, and signs, a Client Services disclaimer which states: ‘We do not perform or refer for abortions.’ All CAPSS centres adhere to this forthright policy,” the rebuttal states.
Norton would like to see the proofs behind Arthur’s numerous allegations, alleging in the rebuttal that in order to find wrongdoing in the centers, the abortion activist was forced to make things up.
“Ms. Arthur’s serious allegations, as we have seen so far, are entirely unfounded with respect to any CPC in British Columbia,” he wrote.
Norton goes on to identify a number of “silly allegations” made by Arthur, such as centers deliberately falsifying pregnancy test results, or that staff are trained to terrify vulnerable women, or that the centers pretend to be medical clinics.
He called these accusations false and abhorrent, detailing how the centers actually operate.
But Norton did not stop there. Wanting to make sure his findings about the medical information the centers give women, he ran them by two dozen medical ethicists, family physicians, and professional counsellors from across Canada. They confirmed the facts of the medically-related content.
“I have reviewed ‘A Respectful Rebuttal to a Disrespectful Report.’ I find its content to be consistent with the medical literature,” wrote Dr. Dan Reilly, MD, FRCSC, MHSc (Bioethics).
“Women and their partners deserve accurate information when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. This comprehensive rebuttal helps to ensure inaccuracies previously reported in ‘Exposing Crisis Pregnancy Centres in British Columbia’ are clarified and corrected,” wrote Dr. Monica Langer, MD, FRCSC, Pediatric Surgeon.
Norton told LifeSiteNews that the pregnancy care ministry would rather spend its time and resources helping women in crisis than responding to “disrespectful rhetoric.”
But the rebuttal was necessary, he said, because Arthur’s report has “taken on a vicious and destructive life of its own.” The report has been used in international abortion conferences, by health lobbies, by Canadian university students, and by political feminist groups.
Joyce Arthur did not respond to LifeSiteNews’ request for comment.
Norton said that Arthur has not responded to his request to have the report deleted from the internet. Nor has she acknowledged receipt of his request.
Ottawa pro-life blogger Patricia Maloney said Arthur’s report is more about ideology, less about facts.
“If Arthur wants to make things up, that's one thing. But when other people start referencing her ‘research’ well that's another thing entirely. And that's the real problem with her harmful ‘report.’ Other people refer to it,” she wrote on her blog.
“For all those people who reference Arthur's report, it really doesn't do their pro-abortion cause any good. It just makes them look like they don't know what they're talking about. Or maybe they just can't get out of the way of their own ideology,” she said.