Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 27, 2000
Pregnancy centres under fire
'W5 made us look like manipulative extremists,' says local head
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Truth and facts are taking a bashing from pro-choicers and the politically correct. Or so it seems from a recent national television news show.
Earlier this month, a W5 story on pregnancy care centres made every pro-life pregnancy centre in Canada look like it was run by manipulative extremists, said Yvonne Morin, president of the Pregnancy Crisis Centre in Edmonton, a centre founded by local Catholics.
"The point of it was they wanted to close every (pro-life) care centre in the country," she said. "It sounds like they're saying that we shouldn't be saying that (abortion) is taking away a life. But that's what it is.
"Our role is to give information to pregnant women. We give them all the alternatives."
And if the alternative is an abortion, it is only fair to include the possible side effects, physical and emotional.
Like many pregnancy information centres, Morin and her team of volunteers offer abortion information, but their pro-life stance and their lack of personal relationships with abortion doctors prevent them from offering referrals. Women interested in having an abortion are referred back to their family doctors.
W5 featured services offered at Pregnancy Care Centres across Canada with an emphasis on the Calgary office.
In the piece, a young woman, Leigh, recounts the counselling she received as preachy and unhelpful. Counsellors made her feel guilty and said her relationship with God would be ruined if she had an abortion. She also said they showed her a pamphlet with a baby talking in the first person, pleading and then thanking his mother for not aborting him.
"That was very hard for me," said Leigh, near tears.
Morin was unimpressed with Leigh's description of the pamphlet.
"That's the reality, it's a life you're taking," Morin said. "The truth hit her . . . instead of getting angry at herself for thinking about it, she got angry at other people."
Leigh went on to say the centre staff were uncooperative, refusing to give her names and numbers of other organizations she could turn to. She then went to an abortion clinic, but was told she was too far into her pregnancy for a legal abortion in Alberta.
She blamed the care centre for delaying her decision to seek an abortion sooner. Planned Parenthood soon helped Leigh with a bus fare to London, Ont., where she received a late-term abortion.
The show also sent hidden cameras into Pregnancy Crisis Centres thoughout Canada.
In a Kitchener, Ont., centre, visitors were shown a video of a late-term abortion procedure not used in Canada. At another centre, a counsellor describes an abortion tool as a barbecue fork.
Though Morin said it was not the choice of word she would use for a tenaculum, she admits it accurately describes what the instrument looks like. Some centres were also listed under misleading headings in the phone books, everywhere from counselling services to birth control.
Throughout the W5 episode, the centres were branded as pro-life organizations fronting as pregnancy care centres.
But the centres admitted to their role as pro-life advocates. They are affiliated with Care Net, a U.S-based pregnancy counselling centre which openly acknowledges its work as a ministry.
On Nov. 16, Joanne Byfield, who is also president of Alberta Pro-Life, and her husband, Link, editor and publisher of Report Magazine, discussed the W5 segment on their noon hour radio show, Report Radio with the Byfields, on CJCA.
The W5 piece was biased and unfair to pro-lifers, said Joanne Byfield, because it represented pregnancy care centres in North America as manipulative pro-lifers.
Several callers to the radio show mentioned the courteous service and advice they received from care centres in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton.
"I went to the Red Deer centre," said a caller named Krystal. "I think they helped me a lot. I think it's a great place. . . . I've known people who've had abortions. If they'd only known about the centre, they would not have had an abortion."
"I'd like W5 to take their hidden cameras into abortion clinics," Byfield said. "Why doesn't anyone warn these women what's going on in there?"
Visitors to the Pregnancy Crisis Centre are offered an assortment of pamphlets. They can also view a 25-minute video on fetal development, abortion and adoption procedures. The video is an eye-opener for many women, said Morin.
"A lot of these women don't know that there is a human baby inside them."
But in the end the decision to have an abortion is left up to the pregnant woman. Morin's centre does not give "yes" or "no" answers, they only show the realities - possible side effects from abortion and trauma of post-abortion syndrome. They leave their moralizing at the door.
"I have to admit that when we took the workshop (from Care Net), they do preach a little too much," Morin said.
The show made fools of pro-lifers, Morin said. Some extremists who talked about luring people into their centres and manipulating women into not having abortions, shine a bad light on the movement.
"It makes us look like fools," Morin said. "Like we're scaring people - we'll do anything to prevent people from having abortions. It makes us look stupid."