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Steve Weatherbe

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Canadian pregnancy centers rebut latest pro-abortion ‘report’ targeting them

Steve Weatherbe

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, May 30, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Joyce Arthur, one of Canada’s most high profile advocates of unrestricted abortion, has published an attack on the country’s network of crisis pregnancy centers, charging that they conceal their religious roots, “promote sexual abstinence,” and allege unproven links between abortion and a host of problems such as breast cancer and STDs. Because they are allegedly giving out medical advice, they ought to be regulated, Arthur’s report recommends.

Now posted on the website of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, which Arthur heads, the “Review of ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centre’ Websites in Canada” was researched by volunteers across Canada who went over pregnancy center websites with a checklist.

ARCC’s report was covered by at least one major media outlet, Global News, under the headline “Crisis pregnancy centres mislead women, report says.” ARCC makes similar claims regularly, one of which resulted in a lawsuit. 

“Only the news media would take something like this seriously,” Jared White, executive director of the Abbotsford-based Advokate Life and Education Services, which operates the Hope for Women Pregnancy Centre there, told LifeSiteNews. “This is about as scientific as a restaurant menu.” If any group ought to be investigated, added White, “it is abortion clinics, which I do not believe are telling their patients the whole truth about abortion’s impacts.”

Added Dr. Laura Lewis, executive director of the Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services, an affiliation of 60-plus Christian pregnancy centers, “We are not trying to conceal anything. We want to help women who are marginalized and who see their pregnancies as putting them in a crisis.”

The report claims to have identified 180 pregnancy centers across Canada, and investigated 100 websites. The report claims that some centers are not up front—on their websites—about their Christian beliefs, their pro-life views, and their refusal to refer clients to abortionists or providers of artificial birth control. The report also claims they make false claims about the medical risks of abortion while downplaying the psychological downside of adoption.

The Back Porch pregnancy center in Edmonton comes in for special attention with regard to their “bias against abortion and towards adoption,” according to the report. The center “makes the assumption that women are being pressured into abortion and lists the risks of abortion.” While enlarging on the benefits of adoption to the adopting family, “the negative feelings about adoption [felt by the natural mother] are glossed over.”

AdvoKate’s White questioned the point of a study based on what is stated on websites. “A pregnancy centre may not say on its website that it will not refer people for an abortion or contraception, but I can guarantee you that once the young women are inside our centre they find that out right away.”

One of the report’s claims is that “96% [of the pregnancy centres] revealed a religious affiliation or agenda” on their website but  “only” 24% were “transparent and upfront about it,” a highly subjective measure meaning, apparently, it wasn’t on their home page.

White also questioned how the centers could be evaluated only on the basis of doing things ARCC disapproved of. “For a fair evaluation of what we do, I would think you would want to talk to the hundreds and hundreds of young women who would say we saved their lives. Or maybe even just one. And we help them a lot more than Joyce Arthur does.”

White said that the report’s numbers were misleadingly low. For example, the report notes that 24 percent of the centers “promoted sexual abstinence as the ideal solution for unwed women” on their websites. But White says, “I would think 100 percent would promote that” with women who get inside the door.

Interestingly, ARCC’s report does not claim that the abstinence recommendation is medically erroneous or misleading. “That’s just the truth,” said White. “Most of the women we see are pregnant despite taking the Pill or using some form of contraception. But Nature is far more powerful.”

The report claims that 5 percent of centers claim there is “a possible risk” of breast cancer after abortion, which the report says has been “scientifically rejected.” But White commented,  “Again, I would have thought more centres than that would have claimed that there might be a link,” so the 5%-figure is far too low.

CAPSS’s Lewis said that her organization’s affiliates are very cautious about making medical claims. As far as the abortion-breast cancer link, “We say there is a possible risk of breast cancer, with an asterisk leading to a footnote that advises this is highly controversial.”

Arthur’s report also claims that “48% [of the pregnancy centers] mentioned negative psychological consequences, primarily in the context of ‘Postabortion Syndrome’, which is not medically recognized.”

But this is not true. The question ARCC’s volunteers were asked was whether “sites claimed that abortion results in negative psychological consequences such as depression, suicidal thoughts, or ‘Post-Abortion Syndrome.’” So the 48-percent result could have been reached without a single reference to PAS.

A subsequent question specifically about Post Abortion Syndrome indicated only 20 percent of the websites – not 48 percent – even “mentioned” PAS.

The correlation between depression and suicide is well established. For example M. Gissler’s study of 600,000 Finnish women from 1987 to 1994 showed women who had abortions were six times more likely to commit suicide than women who bore they babies to term. Women who had abortions were three times more likely to commit suicide that women who were never pregnant.

“We are just trying to help women in very trying circumstances,” Dr. Lewis told LifeSiteNews. “We know whatever way they go, adoption, abortion, keeping the baby, they are making a life-changing decision. And if they choose abortion, we don’t put any obstacles in their way, but we could never facilitate it.”

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