False Labels, Slippery Slopes, and Pregnancy Care Centres

by Rebecca Peters

There have been a lot of names and labels thrown around in the news lately. The one that is currently troubling is “anti-abortion group”. That label has been carelessly slapped on all pregnancy care centres. And if the label sticks, it could potentially give permission to strip those centres of their right to apply for government grants, receive charitable status, and … who knows what else?

It’s a slippery slope. A slope that the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) has been trying to get pregnancy care centres on for years.

Because if pregnancy care centres are merely “anti-abortion groups” in disguise, then apparently one is free to state and believe that they are guilty of manipulation and against all women. What’s also disconcerting is how often this label is being used. Although, its overuse does fall in line with the maxim “if you tell a lie enough times, people start to believe it”.

Do you feel the cold wind against your face as we begin to slide down the slope?

But before we go along with these time-proven propaganda techniques of name-calling, fear mongering, and “bandwagon” (you are either for us or against us), maybe we should stop and ask a few questions. Because that’s a good litmus test for propaganda.

Is this label true? Is it based in fact? Who created the label and started handing it out?

ARCC handmade the label of “anti-abortion group” with pregnancy care centres in mind and they are always looking for a willing recipient to hand out the label for them. As mentioned before, they have been trying to get this label to stick for years. The glue for this label has been a series of articles attacking and trying to discredit pregnancy care centres; it should be noted that the credibility of these articles is very questionable.

So then, let’s address the question – Is it true? Are pregnancy care centres actually disguised “anti-abortion groups” wearing the mask of a charitable organization?

Well, if one pauses long enough to ask the question, the answer is pretty simple to find. Pregnancy care centres clearly state that they exist to offer education and support to anyone facing an unplanned pregnancy. They offer information, resources, and referrals in a nonjudgmental, safe environment. They clearly state who they are, what they do, and what they do not do.

Pregnancy care centres do not coerce women into not having abortions. How would they even do that? No, they do not refer for abortions, because that is not their purpose. If a woman wants an abortion, she can self refer, or get a referral or now a prescription, from her doctor.

Pregnancy care centres are not needed to hand out abortion referrals. Instead, they fill a unique and important role in this country. They are a place for a woman to go if she is feeling overwhelmed by her pregnancy. A place to just tell her story and be heard. A woman doesn’t have to go to a pregnancy care centre if she doesn’t want to. However, if she chooses to continue with her pregnancy, centres are a place to receive prenatal and parenting support. Or, if she does choose to have an abortion, they are a place to go back to if she experiences any grief from her abortion; a safe place to tell her story and be heard. Many women have used this service; it is unlikely post-abortive women would do this if these centres were judging them for their abortion.

While we’re asking questions, another one we should be asking is: Because of the one service pregnancy care centres do not provide – performing or referring for abortions – does this deem all of their other services as non-charitable? Again, a pretty simple answer – no.

The services pregnancy care centres provide are charitable – they are for those in need, provided at no cost. The services offered are not political, not an attack on anyone’s rights, and not in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

So, if we want to have an unbiased and truthful discussion about pregnancy care centres, with no propaganda, can we please remove the false labels and step away from the slippery slope.

Perhaps the direction we should be heading is towards the thousands of women, men, and families who have benefited from the services provided by pregnancy care centres.

If someone would pause long enough to ask previous centre clients to join the conversation, we would hear a different story. We would hear how their lives have been positively impacted and how alone they would have been if their charity of choice – a pregnancy care centre – didn’t exist.