The BC Humanist Association (BCHA) recently published a study that reveals many ‘crisis pregnancy centres’ (CPCs) to be fronts anti-abortion groups rather than advocates for women’s overall well-being and healthcare.
The 117 page study conducted by the BCHA in association with the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) found that anti-choice organizations open CPCs and masquerade as being unbiased medical clinics claiming to help women who find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy. In reality, the BCHA and ARCC found that most are operated by religious ministries and will refuse to refer clients for abortion or contraception.
The study found that in many cases these CPCs promote misinformation and abortion stigma that interfere with and confuses people’s abilities to make a well informed decision about their body and their pregnancy.
“We noticed some revealing changes in the data compared to ARCC’s original 2016 study of CPC websites,” said Olivia Jensen, Acting Executive Director of BCHA.
“CPCs are becoming increasingly vague on their websites, as well as providing less information and being more careful with their messaging. This makes it more difficult to determine if they have religious or anti-choice sentiments.”
CPCs in Canada are not regulated so the misinformation and hidden agendas go unchecked.
More than 140 CPCs operate in Canada, at least 23 of these are operating in British Columbia and at least four are located on Vancouver Island as of 2022.
The four located on Vancouver Island are:
- Birthright Victoria in Victoria – operated by Birthright which is an international anti-abortion agency touting around 210 CPCs across the world.
- Haven Pregnancy Centre in Victoria – affiliated with Heartbeat International, another worldwide anti-abortion agency
- Comox Valley Pregnancy Care Centre in Courtenay – also affiliated with Heartbeat International
- Crossroads Crisis Pregnancy Centre in Nanaimo – also affiliated with Heartbeat International
The study’s findings reveal that inaccurate information is frequently spread via the CPCs’ websites and they often present themselves deceivingly, in many cases hiding religious affiliations.
Here are some noteworthy statistics the BCHA found on 110 CPC websites from across Canada:
- 38.5% (55) did not have disclaimers that they do not assist with, or refer, for abortion or contraception.
- 75.5% (108) mentioned negative psychological consequences, primarily in the context of “post-abortion distress”, which is not medically recognized.
- 42.7% (61) did not have disclaimers that they were not a medical facility and/or that clients should see a doctor for medical services.
What the BCHA wants is for CPCs to be regulated in Canada and BC in order for better public health and respect for the human rights of patients seeking well-informed healthcare.