By Hilary White

OTTAWA, December 7, 2007 ( – Ottawa’s First Place Pregnancy Centre has told the charitable foundation of the Ottawa Senators hockey team that it will be pulling out of a fundraising scheme because of negative publicity after attacks in the press on its pro-life position. The Ottawa Citizen reports that First Place told the foundation it would be pulling out of the fundraising drive after being called “anti-choice” by Planned Parenthood in a press release and “sinister” by CBC columnist Heather Mallick.

First Place was to be among three charities in Ottawa to receive the proceeds of a Christmas tree raffle organized by a group of Senators’ wives and girlfriends called the Better Halves. Terri Mazik, executive director of First Place, told the Ottawa Citizen they withdrew for fear of tarnishing the foundation’s positive image.

She said, “We felt, under the circumstances, they were doing a wonderful thing by including us and they did not deserve to be receiving the negative press.”

The decision to help fund the Centre was viciously attacked by abortion crusaders Planned Parenthood with help from columnist Heather Mallick, who wrote on the website of the CBC that the group was “sinister” and had possible connections to neo-Nazis because of its association with a local Pentecostal church. Planned Parenthood Ottawa accused the Centre of trying to “trick” people into believing it was an “ordinary”, that is, abortion-promoting service.

Mallick wrote that First Place is attempting to hide its purpose, saying, “They take great care to look like kindly counselling centres. In fact, they exist solely to prevent abortion.”

The Centre responded that it was a “pro-women” service that sought to help people in crisis without being judgemental, but that its policy of not referring for abortion was clearly posted on the website and in the offices.

Mazik said First Place counsellors would tell a woman to seek advice from a “medical professional who is not involved in the abortion process.”

“Our mandate is not there to look at whether it’s a pro-life or pro-choice view,” she added. “It’s simply to serve women, and not get caught up in the political arena.”

First Place provides women with an alternative to abortion, and assists women who are facing an unexpected pregnancy with counselling and peer support.

Read related coverage:

Abortion Campaigners Launch Attack on Hockey Wives’ Charitable Support for Crisis Pregnancy Centre

See First Place Pregnancy Centre website