Study criticizes crisis pregnancy centres

A Canadian pro-abortion group issued a report attacking crisis pregnancy centres. Review of ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centre’ Websites in Canada, published by the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC), surveyed Canadian pregnancy care centre websites and claimed that they “often present misinformation on their websites or fail to disclose their anti-choice or religious agenda to prospective clients,” according to the group’s press release.

The ARCC found 180 Canadian crisis pregnancy centres (CPCs) and went through 100 different websites with a set of questions. These included whether the CPC would refer for abortion or contraception, state that abortion increases breast cancer risk, mention abortion risks, refer to negative psychological consequences of abortion, state that contraception was not foolproof, promote abstinence and adoption, appear to have a “religious outlook or agenda,” or make disclaimers that it was not a medical facility.

According to the report, 60 per cent of websites did not mention they would not refer for abortion or contraception. One in 20 CPC websites stated abortion increased the risk of breast cancer and 9 per cent gave medical risks of the procedure that “were exaggerated or not scientifically proven” according to the ARCC. These allegedly misleading risks include infection hemorrhage, perforation, laceration, infertility, and future miscarriage. Nearly half (48 per cent) mentioned the negative psychological consequences of abortion and 7 per cent said that contraception is not fully effective. About a quarter (24 per cent) promoted abstinence as the best solution to unwanted pregnancy. According to the ARCC, nearly all CPCs (96 per cent) were identified as having a religious affiliation, with 24 per cent being “transparent” about it. A third (33 per cent) did not have disclaimers about not being medical facilities, although they do not make the claim that they are medical facilities.

In a press release, Autumn Renhardt-Simpson, one of the co-authors of the study, states that CPCs should be forced to mention that they would not refer for abortions or contraception on their websites. Pregnancy centres that refuse to do so should “be denied public funding and have their charitable tax status revoked.”

Pro-lifers disagree. If any group should come under investigation, “it is abortion clinics, which I do not believe are telling their patients the whole truth about abortion’s impacts,” said Jared White, executive director of Advokate Life and Education Services which runs the Hope for Women Pregnancy Centre in Abbotsford. He also told LifeSiteNews that it was unfair to evaluate the CPCs based only on practices to which the ARCC objected.

White said that some of the statistics seem low. For instance, he said he believes that all CPCs promote abstinence as the ideal option as opposed to 24 per cent as reported by the ARCC.

He also wondered what the purpose was of examining CPCs based on what was 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,” he said.

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

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