Last month, BC Supreme Court Madam Justice Russell decided to dismiss the defamation lawsuit launched by two women’s care centres against a pro-choice activist. In 2009, Joyce Arthur and her Pro-Choice Action Network released a publication titled, Exposing Crisis Pregnancy Centres in British Columbia. The 65-page document asserted that crisis pregnancy centres (CPCs) were “using graphic videos and pictures to shock and horrify young women about abortion” and that “CPCs won’t say up front they are religious, and will lie about being religiously-affiliated to get a woman into the centre”.
The Christian Advocacy Society of Greater Vancouver (I’m not sure how much more up front about religious affiliation you can be) and the Crisis Pregnancy Centre of Vancouver Society filed a Notice of Civil Claim on October 12, 2012 alleging defamation against Ms. Arthur and the Pro-Choice Action Network on the basis that the above mentioned assertions, and other serious allegations, were false. One of the main purposes of these organizations is to provide care for women with unplanned pregnancies.
The ruling is being viewed as a victory for Ms. Arthur and undoubtedly she will continue to wage war against those who work toward minimizing the number of abortions in Canada. Indeed, only a few days after her victory, Ms. Arthur began calling for the British Columbia government to regulate CPCs. She is quoted in a Straight.com article stating that CPCs are “scaring” women and “handing out misinformation”.
Ms. Arthur’s new media statements are contrary to her own lawyer’s position in written and oral submissions to the court – accepted by the judge – that the CPCs defamation case should be dismissed because the allegations in her report were NOT about BC CPCs.
Further, nearly all CPCs in Canada are members of the Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services and are subject to the highest standard of counselling ethics, as well as Canada Revenue Agency guidelines pertaining to political activity.
Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in North America, consistently cites the second most common reason women seek abortion as an inability to afford the costs associated with raising a child. At a crisis pregnancy centre, trained counsellors come alongside such women and in a pastoral manner are able to seek ways in which economic barriers can be overcome. (Having been at a few of their fundraising events, I can attest to their prudent use of resources for this purpose.) The end result could be that a previously distraught woman (who may well have thought her only choice was abortion) is able to consider another choice that was, in her mind, previously unavailable to her and can carry on with the pregnancy in confident expectation of childbirth. What callous person would be opposed to giving a woman this choice? Who could be opposed to such compassion and human kindness?
A large majority of Canadians are not comfortable with the high rate of abortions and the truth is that CPCs play an important role in minimizing the perceived need for a woman to terminate her pregnancy. They are on the frontlines of assisting those who need help.
Rather than taking the approach of Ms. Arthur by impeding a woman’s right to choose life for her pre-born child, we should be doing all we can to ensure they have the means to carry out this important work of providing alternative and viable choices for women.