Vancouver feminist Joyce Arthur wins court case against abortion-counselling organizations
One of Vancouver's best-known prochoice activists has won a victory in B.C. Supreme Court after she was sued for defamation.
Joyce Arthur claimed in a 2009 report on the Pro-Choice Action Network website that crisis-preganancy centres (CPCs) are "anti-choice Christian ministries, often pretending to be non-biased medical clinics or counselling services. Their main goal is to stop women from having abortions and to convert women to Christianity".
On August 26, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Loryl Russell dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Christian Advocacy Society of Greater Vancouver and the Crisis Pregnancy Centre of Vancouver Society.
According to Russell's ruling, Arthur's report included many criticisms of CPCs, which Arthur referred to as "fake clinics" that relied on "Misinformation and Deceptive Tactics".
In addition, her report claimed that these operations "use graphic videos and pictures to shock and horrify young women about abortion", describing this as "practically a form of terrorism".
Arthur also maintained in the report that they "won't say upfront" that they are religiously affiliated, according to Russell's ruling.
The report led to a three-part series on CTV News.
The lawsuit was filed in 2012.
The plainfiffs alleged that Arthur and the Pro-Choice Action Network "undertook a fundraising campaign for the purpose of distributing the Report to various individuals and organizations known to the defendants located in Vancouver and Burnaby, where the plaintiffs' CPCs are located".
In addition, the plaintiffs claimed that the report "expressly identifies them".
Russell's ruling cited the "real issue" as whether the defendants could "immunize themselves from liability" by including "hedging language" in the report.
As an example, the judge noted that the report claimed that activites and strategies cited were "common to many or most CPCs throughout North America".
Part of the claim focused on comments that Arthur had made to CTV News reporter Jon Woodward.
Woodward had earlier told the court that Arthur never communicated that allegations in her report applied to the Vancouver Crisis Pregnancy Centre or Burnaby Crisis Pregnancy Centre.
In 2011, Arthur told the Straight that she was raised in a Christian fundamentalist home in Ontario.
That same year, she was voted "favourite feminist" at the Naked Truth Adult Entertainment Awards for her ongoing support for sex-trade workers.