Don’t Be Fooled by Fake Clinics

by | January 29, 2012
filed under Can-Con, Feminism

This column by Joyce Arthur was originally posted at the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada website. Cross-posted with permission from the author. 

If you purchased a bottle of wine at your local government liquor store in Kamloops BC during the holiday season last year, you may have noticed a tin on the counter labelled “Help a Woman in Crisis.” Perhaps you even dropped a few coins in it. What you may not have noticed is the name of the recipient on that tin—the Pregnancy Care Centre of Kamloops. Unfortunately, this agency is one that many people would be loathe to support if they knew what it really represented.

On its website and brochure, the Pregnancy Care Centre of Kamloops claims to help women with unplanned pregnancies by giving them practical support and “non-judgmental care” as well as “education on all pregnancy options, and “referrals for health, housing and community support,” among other laudable-sounding services.

But this carefully cultivated public persona deliberately hides the true nature and purpose of the centre. Unsuspecting donors would never guess that the centre is actually an anti-abortion Christian ministry whose main goal is to dissuade women from having abortions—and then convert them if possible.

About 150 of these fake clinics—so-called “crisis pregnancy centres”—exist across Canada. Many are affiliates of the Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services (CAPSS), an umbrella group that “encourages and equips” these centres. One of the primary tools that CAPSS provides to its affiliates for their work is an “Evangelism Manual.”

As an affiliate of CAPSS, the Kamloops Pregnancy Care Centre must maintain “faithful adherence” to several statements and codes, none of which are available to the public (we obtained a copy of them several years ago):

Fake clinics like the Kamloops centre try to give the impression they are secular medical clinics run by professionals, when most are staffed solely by volunteers with no credentials or training in counselling. Alarmingly, the vast majority of fake clinics provide misinformation or withhold information from women.

Although they claim to help with all options, fake clinics will never refer a woman for an abortion—even in the most desperate circumstances, such as a lethal defect in the foetus or in cases of rape. Centres often use methods and language designed to horrify and confuse women considering abortion, which can induce guilt, anxiety, and emotional trauma. For example, they generally subject women to scare-mongering misinformation about abortion that exaggerates its risks, such as warnings that abortion leads to scarring, breast cancer, future miscarriage, post-traumatic stress disorder, or infertility—all false scientifically.

Fake clinics will never refer a woman for contraception, either. They generally counsel against using birth control and even refuse to provide information on it, except for false claims such as: condoms don’t protect against sexually-transmitted infections, and hormonal methods of birth control methods are “abortifacients.”

Other activities that many of these fake clinics are known to engage in include: delaying pregnancy test results and using the time to expose women to anti-choice or religious propaganda, presenting ambiguous or false pregnancy results to delay or prevent abortion, lecturing women on abstinence, breaking confidentiality by making unwanted phone calls to the woman or alerting her parents, and conducting unprofessional post-abortion counselling using a religiously-based model of guilt, forgiveness, and redemption.

The public, and especially the women of Kamloops, deserve to know the truth about this Pregnancy Care Centre. It is unconscionable for this fake clinic to dupe people out of their money by pretending to be secular and unbiased. The presence of their fundraising tins in government liquor stores around Kamloops indicates that the LDB itself has likely been deceived. Even Canada Revenue appears to have been bamboozled—it gave the Pregnancy Care Centre of Kamloops charitable status as a “Welfare Organization.” That is highly inappropriate for an agency that might give out a few free diapers and baby toys but primarily exists to stop women from having abortions.

-Joyce Arthur

(photo via Wikimedia Commons)

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