CTV news report claims Pregnancy Centre exaggerate health risks of abortions



January 20, 2012

JAN. 19 – (Ilse VanderMeulen – CTV News journalist Jon Woodward recently investigated two Pregnancy Care Centres in the lower mainland of BC. The news item was broadcasted last night and claimed that the Centres are exaggerating the health risks of abortions when they talk to clients. The risks discussed were ranging from breast cancer to depression to fetal body parts forgotten inside the womb. Medical experts interviewed by Woodward do not deny the health risks, but call them ‘rare’ in Canada.

In December, an undercover staff member of CTV visited the South Fraser Pregnancy Options Centre and the Surrey Pregnancy Options Centre. Despite signing a form stating that she was not recording the session, the reporter went in to the Centres in Vancouver and Surrey with a hidden camera saying she was pregnant and wanted to talk about her options.

A similar incident happened in August 2010 when Toronto Star reporter Joanna Smith went undercover to investigate Pregnancy Centres in the Greater Toronto Area.

It is sad to see that journalists deem it necessary to use these undercover techniques to check up on Pregnancy Centres. Information provided to clients is printed in brochures that are readily available and the media can also interview clients who have visited a centre about their experiences in the counselling rooms. The use of hidden cameras and undercover reporters gives the public right away the impression that the Centres have something to hide and there is no ground for that.

There is nothing wrong with being accountable for the information provided to vulnerable women visiting the Pregnancy Centres. It is concerning however, that a journalist starts his investigation based on suggestions from pro-choice organizations, which clearly have their own agenda. Woodward acknowledges in the report that Options for Sexual Health had voiced concerns about the information Pregnancy Centres provide.

Ms Lansink, Executive Director of the South Fraser Centre, stated that the brochure used for counselling is an up to date and accurate compilation of medical research that was reviewed and proofread by 25 professional counselors, physicians, and medical researchers across Canada before going to print. She revealed that Woodward of CTV News called the Centre, saying that he had received a ‘complaint’ from a client who believed the Centre had given her false medical information regarding the risks of abortion.

In an article in the National Post on January 11, Lorne Gunter also comments on pro-choice organizations fighting against providing any information on health risks about abortion to pregnant women. “If this was any other procedure, the failure to inform patients even of these tiny risk factors would be met with outrage”, he writes. Gunter points out that at any medical procedure doctors inform patients about risks involved, no matter how small. “But pro-choicers work hard to keep women desirous of having an abortion from knowing risks (…), just to ensure the smallest number of women possible change their minds about having abortions.” Gunter rightfully concludes that “their efforts to keep women from making fully informed decisions about abortion makes them pro-abortion rather than merely pro-choice.”

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