Pro-choice activist Joyce Arthur wants B.C. government to regulate crisis pregnancy centres

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      A Vancouver pro-choice community leader wants the B.C. government to regulate crisis pregnancy centres.

      In a phone interview with the Straight, Joyce Arthur of the Pro-Choice Action Network said these organizations sometimes present themselves as secular agencies to lure pregnant women, but often have a secret religious agenda to discourage anyone from seeking an abortion or using birth control. Others, she said, will disclose their religious affiliation in fine print, but not in an “up-front” manner.

      She also alleged that some crisis pregnancy centres falsely claim that there are links between abortion and breast cancer.

      “They’re handing out medical misinformation to women, scaring them and so forth,” Arthur said. “Can they be regulated in some way?”

      The Ministry of Health did not make a spokesperson available to respond by the Straight’s deadline.

      Arthur made the comments after B.C. Supreme Court justice Loryl Russell dismissed a defamation suit against her and the Pro-Choice Action Network late last month. It was filed by two local organizations that operate crisis pregnancy centres: the Christian Advocacy Society of Greater Vancouver and the Crisis Pregnancy Centre of Vancouver Society.

      According to Russell’s ruling, Arthur claimed in a 2009 report on the Pro-Choice Action Network website that crisis pregnancy centres 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.”

      Arthur stated in the report that the activities and strategies were “common” to many North American crisis pregnancy centres.

      “I think they were just targeting me as a leader in the pro-choice movement,” Arthur said. “They were trying to silence criticism of any CPC [crisis pregnancy centre] anywhere.”

      B.C. NDP health critic Judy Darcy told the Straight by phone that she is "very disturbed" about the lack of counselling for pregnant women that offers real choices—"both to consider options, including abortion as a choice, but also counselling post-abortion in a way that is unbiased and that use medically sound information".

      "That's what women really need," Darcy said. "It's unfortunate that in the absence of that, people often have no choice or don't know that they're turning to counselling services that are, in fact, not unbiased and not necessarily [providing] medically sound information."

      When asked if government should step in as a regulator, Darcy replied: "I think government's main role is to ensure that those unbiased medically sound services are available to women, so that women are able to go to those kinds of services. I'll be honest, I haven't dug into the issue of these crisis pregnancy centres enough to know whether they need to be regulated. I think certainly it needs to be clear what they are and what they aren't, so that women know what services they're turning to."

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      8 Comments

      RUK

      Sep 4, 2013 at 11:30am

      There is a sort of a link to breast cancer and abortion in that nulliparous women have significantly higher incidence of BC compared to parous women. It's obviously not a universally compelling reason to carry to child to term, and in no way would I ever argue against abortion on demand (to me, a fundamental human right) but maybe it is something to think about.

      As for regulation of the information given out by these CPC people, isn't there existing law such as spreading false news? Could they be charged under that? It seems like a mischief type of thing.

      Kringe

      Sep 5, 2013 at 4:47am

      Sadly,not enough politicians enter politics with a mind to address abortion related issues. Many politicians go into office with some issues in mind, issues they want to tackle or shine a light on, but we continue to be afraid, even in Canada, to address abortion related issues. Issues that many women are aware of like how hard it is to access services in many places, we have a province without services entirely (PEI) and we have problems accessing in rural locations all across the country. Pregnancy Centres have been known to misinform for years, this is nothing new, we simply don't have any politicians willing to dive into these issues. Highschool sex-ed isn't a complete course in most schools, and kids can opt-out. Birth control and Plan B need to be readily available to teens. Every major city should have a Sexual Health Centre staffed by people who LOVE to talk about all things sexual and reproductive health. Glad to see community groups are still pushing these issues, sad to see that gov't is still giving us the 'we need to look into this issue' line.

      MelissaL

      Sep 5, 2013 at 9:16am

      A balanced article would have included some perspective from a Crisis Pregnancy Centre.

      A responsible journalist would have called a Crisis Pregnancy Centre or two to determine for herself whether or not Joyce Arthur's criticism has merit. Especially after Arthur had been sued for slander after making those comments, which should suggest to any thinking person that her criticism of the CPCs is, at the very least, disputed.

      ChrisS

      Sep 5, 2013 at 8:21pm

      CPCs offer real help and support to women who are afraid, alone, and uninformed. All options are discussed, with accurate information being presented so that the woman can make an informed decision, and be supported in that decision either way. CPCs provide love, and support of the whole person. So it happens that those who care enough about these women are Christians. Their actions tell a message of love. As for the link between induced abortion and Breast Cancer, 53 out of 73 studies show a higher risk. That's info every woman would want to know. http://www.lifenews.com/2013/08/19/73-studies-have-examined-abortion-and...

      RUK

      Sep 6, 2013 at 11:51am

      Anyone who would impede a person from making a decision to freely disconnect someone else from their organs should be consistent.

      To me, that would be organizing political support for the state to involuntarily seize life support capacity from every citizen in Canada, not just pregnant women. That would mean forced blood donation, forced donation of the extra kidney, forced bone marrow donation, and of course complete recycling of all body parts post mortem. After all, we must think of the babies. Life first!

      mikeP

      Sep 7, 2013 at 3:35pm

      Frankly, I think the government needs to look into where tax dollars are being spent. Why do people like Arthur get my tax dollars to write reports making unfounded allegations. Hey, if you want to profit from writing fiction, first come up with a good plot and then let the free market determine if your book is any good.

      Charlie Smith

      Sep 7, 2013 at 3:44pm

      I am pretty certain that the government did not pay Joyce Arthur to write this report.

      Charlie Smith

      MelissaL

      Sep 9, 2013 at 12:30pm

      Joyce Arthur and the ProChoice Activist Network was given a grant of $27,400 from Status of Woman Canada to write said report.