The Abortion Rights Coalition has released a major study into the online presence of Canadian fake clincs, or crisis pregnancy centres (full PDF report).
From the press release:
Anti-abortion counselling agencies in Canada often present misinformation on their websites or fail to disclose their anti-choice or religious agenda to prospective clients, according to a new study published today by the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada.
Crisis Pregnancy Centres (CPCs) are anti-choice agencies that present themselves as unbiased medical clinics or counselling centres, and which often claim to provide women with non-judgemental information on all their options when faced with an unintended pregnancy. However, CPCs are not medical facilities, most are Christian ministries, they generally will not refer clients for abortion or contraception, and many promote misinformation about abortion. CPCs in Canada have no regulatory oversight; however, 68% of them are registered charities.
Researchers identified 180 CPCs in Canada, and looked at the 166 of them that have websites.
Results were not surprising. Well, not to those of us who have made it our mission to get these fake clinics regulated, defunded, and stripped of charitable status.
They lie about abortion risks; they promote sexual abstinence and adoption as ideal solutions to unwanted pregnancy; they fail to disclose their religious agendas; they do not reveal that they refuse to refer for abortion or contraception.
In fact, the Canadian study mirrors much of what was reported last year in a USian report, titled "Crisis Pregnancy Centers Lie." (PDF).
The situation in the US is much more dire. There are many, many more of these fraudulent operations and an astounding number of them get significant government funding.
The Canadian study reports on CPC funding (pp 29–30 of PDF). It seems that not much public funding goes to these places, but what does must be stopped.
A majority of them have charitable status.
Many CPCs also enjoy charitable tax status, which significantly increases their ability to fundraise (Arthur 2005). Out of the 180 CPCs we identified, 68% (122) had charitable tax status. However, Canadian groups should not be eligible for charity status if they disseminate biased or inaccurate information that is disguised as “education” or “counselling.” (Arthur 2005; Canada Revenue Agency 2013).
Coincidentally, Amanda Marcotte wrote recently about an analysis of USian CPCs' own data.
Nicole Knight Shine looked at the numbers and concluded they fail miserably at their mission -- if their mission is to dissuade women from choosing abortion.
Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are billed as alternatives to abortion clinics, but new data suggests they largely fail at their mission, persuading less than 4 percent of clients to forgo abortion care.
Back to Marcotte:
The thing is that CPC centers know this. Shine’s numbers come directly from their own database, showing that they they are well aware that the vast majority of women who come in their doors will not be intimidated, much less persuaded, out of their abortions. So why do they keep plugging away at it, when they know full well they are terrible at what they claim they want to do?
It’s because preventing abortion has never been and will never be the actual goal of CPCs, no matter what their fundraising materials might say. The real purpose is to shame women for having sex and to spread stigma over abortion, contraception, and any non-procreative sexual activity. The vicious lies and guilt trips they lay on women are not the means to an end, but are the end itself. The point is not really “saving lives”, but making women feel scared, guilty, and anxious, as punishment for having sex.
It is this atmosphere in the US that makes the endless screwing around with abortion laws and restrictions possible and, seemingly, acceptable.
In Canada, we are -- so far -- successfully resisting any similar attempts to recriminalize abortion.
This new study demonstrates though that we must remain vigilant and aware of what anti-choice forces are up to. We must impede them any way we can. Regulate them, defund them, and strip them of charitable status.
And for anyone interested in reading or writing about abortion, the ARCC report is full of helpful links and resources.
Kudos to all involved.
On a personal note -- and in what might be a first for a "serious" study -- DAMMIT JANET!, a mere blog, is cited for our efforts in getting public funding yanked from a fake clinic in Ontario.
We are chuffed.
ADDED: This is the only media story on the report I've found: Global.