Pregnancy Care Centres in Canada: A Necessary Rebuttal
Pregnancy Care Canada is a non-political, not-for-profit, faith-based, national best practice association for over 80 affiliated pregnancy care centres, at times referred to as crisis pregnancy centres (CPCs). Most but not all pregnancy care centres are affiliated with Pregnancy Care Canada. Our affiliated centres provide a safe environment for a woman to make a pregnancy decision that is fully informed, evidence-based, consistent with her belief system, and free from external pressure. Please meet our team.
Why a Rebuttal?
Normally, we have no interest in responding to false narratives from partisan groups. However, owing to the prominence of the Institute for Research on Public Policy, we feel compelled to respectfully respond to the shocking allegations in Abortion in Canada is legal for all but inaccessible for too many.
The authors are with an organization called missINFORMED, “a national non-profit designed to provide health education and to promote informed advocacy through evidence-based teachings.”[i]
Our rebuttal does not concern the authors’ stated opinions on abortion, abortion law, and abortion restrictions in Canada, the thrust of their piece. We are addressing the accusations specific to crisis pregnancy centres. We will repeat verbatim each of the eight fraudulent allegations, and respond.
The missINFORMED Allegations
- Compounding the issue of inequitable abortion access are unregulated crisis pregnancy centres (CPCs).[ii]
Pregnancy care centres are governed by a board of directors and operate in accordance with specified articles of incorporation, by-laws, and stated purpose. Centres adhere to all applicable Canada Revenue Agency and provincial regulations. This includes but is not limited to complying with the legal and regulatory requirements pertaining to financial management, employment, and public disclosure. Our affiliated centres which provide medical services retain healthcare professionals who work within their scope of practice and in accordance with provincial regulatory bodies. Our affiliated centres follow strict best practice guidelines, including adherence to published affiliation principles, counselling ethics, financial stewardship, and centre director accreditation. If any centre is found to be in non-compliance – i.e. unwilling or unable to meet our affiliation standards – such a centre will be removed from affiliation.
- CPCs are anti-choice wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are advertised as a resource for individuals with unplanned pregnancies to receive support and counselling.
Apart from the “wolves” indictment, this is the only accurate statement in the article. Yes, we advertise support for individuals with unexpected pregnancies. Specifically, information on all pregnancy options: parenting, adoption, and abortion. Further, depending on the unique services of a centre, also prenatal instruction, parenting classes, financial aid, material support (e.g. maternity clothes, baby clothes, formula, diapers, furnishings), and post abortion care (e.g. individual, support groups, and retreats).
- However, they deceive clients with misinformation about abortion or other options that may delay or interfere with their ability to access the care they need.
Pregnancy care centres do not delay or interfere with client care access. Centre support is volitional, permission-based, and free of charge. Our affiliates have helped hundreds of thousands of women with onsite assistance and with community referrals for nearly 25 years. Our affiliates provide accurate information on all options at all stages of pregnancy.
To allege “misinformation” the authors inappropriately compare Canadian crisis pregnancy centres to various American centres in a US report: “[At] these centers, women do not receive comprehensive, accurate, evidence-based clinical information about all available options.”[iii] Leaving aside the validity of that particular report, Canadian centres are not American centres. We base our information on scientific literature and the expertise of healthcare and counselling professionals in Canada.
Our client booklet Pregnancy Options Guide has been reviewed by 80 specialized practitioners.
Why so many proofreaders?
First and foremost, for accuracy for our clients.
Second, to ensure the integrity of our information which is often challenged by organizations ideologically opposed to crisis pregnancy centres. Thus, as is noted on our Pregnancy Options Guide,
For accuracy and accountability, the Pregnancy Options Guide has been reviewed by 80 specialized practitioners in Canada, including perinatal nurses, family physicians, obstetricians-gynaecologists, medical ethicists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers.
- CPCs far outnumber abortion care providers in Canada.
Not a significant point, but still inaccurate. In Canada, there are over 150 abortion facilities and an estimated 125 crisis pregnancy centres.[iv]
- Why are we, members of a pro-choice non-profit focused on evidence-based education, competing for funding with anti-choice groups such as the CPCs?
Pro-choice groups do not compete with CPCs for taxpayer funding. Pregnancy care centres rely on donations from individuals, families, businesses, churches, and private foundations.[v]
- We heard promises that were included in the Liberal platform in 2021 to prevent anti-choice groups and CPCs from being assigned charitable status, but we have yet to see these promises kept.
The Liberal platform promise is as follows: “A re-elected Liberal government will: No longer provide charity status to anti-abortion organizations (for example, Crisis Pregnancy Centres) that provide dishonest counseling to women about their rights and about the options available to them at all stages of the pregnancy.”[vi]
We agree. All crisis pregnancy centres – and/or prochoice organizations, and prolife agencies – which knowingly provide dishonest information should not retain their CRA charitable status. With respect, we have already communicated our position to the Members of Parliament mandated with the revocation investigation.
- One recommendation is not to limit who can obtain “charitable” status, but instead restrict what types of charities can receive donations and tax exemptions from a values-based perspective.
We could not disagree more. All charities operate from a values-based perspective. Whether secular or sacred, values are integral and universally recognized for ethical practices and service to others.
- Religious groups focused on charitable issues could still receive funding, but those imposing religious beliefs on others would not.
Faith-based crisis pregnancy centres do not impose religion or sectarian beliefs. Registered charities legally cannot – and ethically must not – impose upon clients organizational or personal beliefs, whether religious, non-religious, ideological, or political.[vii]
The missINFORMED authors reiterate a tired script. Fall trap to confirmation bias. Make disrespectful, unsubstantiated claims.
For a woman to truly have a choice regarding her unexpected pregnancy, she must have authentic options to choose from – including the option to continue her pregnancy, receive support, and not feel pressured into an unwanted abortion. We trust the IRPP readership will see the validity and societal value of pregnancy care centres supporting vulnerable women, men, and families each day across Canada.
On behalf of Pregnancy Care Canada,
Brian Norton, Board Member
Dr. Laura Lewis, Executive Director
For other details on our charitable impact, please see Frequently Asked Questions and Clarifications.
To learn more about Pregnancy Care Canada, please visit our website at pregnancycarecanada.ca and sign-up for our e-newsletter.
Brian Norton has a Masters of Ministry, a minor in Environmental Education, and Social Worker in-service accreditation. For 8 years, Brian was a government case worker in child protection and for families with children with special needs. For 30 years, Brian was founder and director of a charity providing sexual assault counselling, residential shelter for abused women, and two pregnancy centres. This charity has conducted trainings in 15 countries for outreaches offering help for violated women and for unplanned pregnancy. Brian serves on the board of Pregnancy Care Canada and he also serves at a foodbank/seasonal shelter for people who are homeless.
Dr. Laura Lewis, after working for 22 years as a family physician, saw the need for education, support, and practical options for women and men facing an unexpected pregnancy. She helped co-found a local meal kitchen, a local pregnancy care centre, and now for six years serves as executive director of Pregnancy Care Canada. She has conducted post abortion grief seminars in Japan and she has uplifted mistreated, trafficked women in restoration programs in Cambodia. Dr. Lewis has a Hon. B. Comm Degree from Queen’s University, a Medical Degree from the University of Western Ontario, and a Certificate of Family Medicine from McMaster University.
[i] Website: missINFORMED. Accessed October 4, 2022.
[ii] Words in italic by us for emphasis.
[iii] Using the ad hominem fallacy ‘guilt by association’ (i.e. here, having similar services) – is poor scholarship. For example, what about the “reports” of US abortion clinics misconduct? Using missINFORMED reasoning, by extension, then similar violations are occurring in Canadian abortion clinics. This of course is an injudicious leap. (Reported violations in US abortion clinics: unlicensed abortion providers; surgical instruments not sterilized; expired medications; unsanitary injection practices; failure to conduct pre-anesthesia evaluations; failing to provide follow-up care; emergency hospitalizations of women negligently injured; patient logs improperly filed and/or discovered offsite; financial fraud; failure to report reasonable suspected rape/abuse of minors; sexual assault of patients by staff; improper disposal of fetal remains. A number of these clinics have surrendered their licences. Some abortion provider staff have been jailed. Sources: Americans United for Life, Unsafe, a 50-state investigative report of 300 abortion facilities cited for 2,400-plus health/safety deficiencies from 2008-2020), 2021; and “Abortion Industry Negligence Nationwide: Highlighting the Most Egregious Offenses,” Summary Document, Charlotte Lozier Institute, 2016; and Live Action, Aiding Abusers: Planned Parenthood’s Cover-Up of Child Sex Abuse, May 2018.
[iv] The figure of approximately 125 pregnancy care centres includes 15 Birthright offices, which according to Birthright are not CPCs. The authors referenced an incorrect figure for pregnancy care centres from a prochoice group which double-counted various CPCs, over-counted existing Birthright offices by a third, and mistakenly added some prolife education groups. The 150-plus figure for abortion facilities includes abortion clinics, abortion-procuring hospitals, and Quebec CLSCs (centre local de services communautaires). This figure does not include family physicians and some primary care clinics which prescribe medical abortions. Sources: Figures culled from Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, Birthright International, Alliance Ressources Grossesse, and Pregnancy Care Canada.
[v] Possible minor exceptions that are unrelated to general operations: Some centres participate in the Canada Summer Jobs program. This federal program exists to help youth gain paid work experience prior to resuming studies in the fall. The funds are not for a participating business or charity per se, but go through the organization to the student. Further, a few centres may have received a past grant toward a unique client-care project.
[vi] Liberal Party Platform: “Forward For Everyone.” September 2021, p 4.
[vii] See: “Public Policy Dialogue and Development Activities by Charities.” Canada Revenue Agency. Guidance, Reference CG-027, November 27, 2020.