Canada, unlike the United States, has no abortion laws. The abortion law we did have was struck down in 1988 by the Supreme Court of Canada when challenged by Dr. Henry Morgentaler, an abortion doctor.
Our Court declared in that ruling, that the existing law violated a woman's right to "security of the person" under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This ruling had to do with procedural problems related to Therapeutic Abortion Committees where a panel of doctors had the authority to grant a woman a certificate to obtain a legal abortion if they felt continuation of the pregnancy would be harmful to the woman's health. The court did not rule that the Charter granted a "right to abortion". Since then, all attempts to create any legal abortion restrictions, have failed.
As Americans debate publicly funded abortions, they should take note that in Canada, all abortions are paid for by our public health care system. And because Canada has no abortion laws at all, abortion is legally permissible up until the moment of birth, and for any reason.
The only recourse pro-life Canadians have against abortion, is education. This includes education that comes from crisis pregnancy centres (CPCs).
CPCs are organizations that provide support and information to pregnant women who choose to keep their unborn child or decide to give the child up for adoption. These centres are alternatives to abortion clinics, both for the support they provide and for the information they give. These centres don't just help women who choose to give birth, but even those who haven't made a decision yet whether to abort or not. Many of these centres also help women who have already had abortions and are grieving.
Now these centres (CPCs also exist in the US) are under attack as radical feminist organizations try to maintain their any-time, any-reason, publicly funded access to abortion.
Recently one such organization, the Pro-Choice Action Network (Pro-Can), decided to go on the offensive against CPCs, resulting in a scathing report condemning these centres in British Columbia, Canada.
All right minded people need to ask themselves an extremely important question in light of this report.
Should pregnant women be able to get support and information from an organization that does not advocate abortion? I am not asking if we should support a pro-life philosophy. I am asking if women, in a free and democratic society, can choose to go to an organization that will not advocate abortion?
Pro-Can believes the answer is no and tries hard to get you to agree with them. They believe we must "beware" these organizations, that they "mistreat" and "deceive" women and give them misinformation". Based on what you ask? Well, lots of unsubstantiated claims, innuendo and anonymous sources. What evidence is provided, can easily be refuted with other evidence.
Pro-Can's so-called research project, "Exposing Crisis pregnancy centre's in British Columbia" states that these centres are "fake clinics" and that they are "anti-choice Christian ministries" that "often pretend to be non-biased medical clinics".
But these centres are not fake--they tell women they do not provide abortions and are not medical clinics (see Appendix 3 of report for individual centres' websites).
Pro-Can "infiltrated" some CPCs, by sending in a volunteer, and visiting or calling a number of them. The report also tries to discredit a volunteer manual obtained from the Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services (CAPSS), an umbrella organization for some of these centres.
Here are just three examples of how Pro-Can attempts to disparage these CPCs.
First, they refute the relationship between abortion and breast cancer (ABC). One reference used is based on a 2003 National Cancer Institute symposium that concluded there was no link. Yet that same symposium had dissension. One participant stated he was "convinced that the weight of available evidence suggests a real, independent, positive association between induced abortion and breast cancer risk."
See Joel Brind's (Ph.D., Professor, Human Biology and Endocrinology) full statement here.
Here are other studies that support the ABC link.
Second, when can a fetus feel pain? Pro-Can's report states that a fetus "cannot feel pain until at least the third trimester". However Dr. K.S. Anand, the world's foremost authority on research into pain perception in fetal and neonatal children and whose landmark study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1987, disagrees. At the Partial Birth Abortion hearings in the Southern District of New York in 2004, Dr. Anand testified that "the human fetus possesses the ability to experience pain by 20 weeks of gestation, if not earlier, and the pain perceived by a fetus is possibly more intense than that perceived by term newborns or older children." His testimony can be found here.
Third, the report states "there is no evidence to suggest that women who have abortions experience any more or less sadness and regret than women who complete an unwanted pregnancy". They cite the American Psychological Association (APA) as one source. However Andrea Mrozek, manager of research and communications at the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada, details in a recent report that the APA research was flawed.
Here is additional research of the after affects of abortion here and here.
Some may say, "some of that research is biased". The same can and should be said of Pro-Can's evidence. That's why it's so important if there's the slightest possibility of the ABC link; or of severe psychological and physical health risks; or that her unborn child would suffer extreme pain during that abortion–that a pregnant woman see all the evidence, not just the "pro-choice" evidence. It's called informed consent. (Unfortunately Canada does not have informed consent laws for abortion.)
Canada has numerous abortion clinics, hospitals and Planned Parenthood organizations, to provide or refer for abortion services. That's ample pro-choice "help". Women want and deserve something other than abortion clinics. CPCs are the only concrete something else Canada has at the moment for women in crisis pregnancy situations. They provide information on abortions; they just won't provide or refer for the actual abortions. What they do provide, is support and information to help women make an informed decision in a nonjudgmental and loving way.
Finally, what about some of those Christians who work at CPCs? Here's what Pro-Can says in their newsletter about pro-life Christians: their "opposition to abortion comes primarily from religious justifications for oppressing women"; their "views seem small-minded, uninformed, sexist, and cruel"; they are "expressing disrespect and contempt for women." (Read more of Pro-Can's "commentary" and decide its credibility for yourself here and here.)
Nobody is asking Pro-Can to believe in Christ--but it's none of their business if others do. This is one of Canada's most precious rights. It's called freedom of religion and it is protected under our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
There are no legal restrictions on abortion in Canada; no medical reason required; all paid for by taxpayers. Canada does not legally protect its most defenceless and vulnerable citizens. But if a woman decides to have her baby or if she's not sure yet what she wants to do, she can turn to a Crisis Pregnancy Centre for support and information she will not obtain at an abortion clinic or Planned Parenthood or Pro-Can.
Yes, we must beware organizations that mistreat and deceive women by giving them misinformation. This is why we must support a woman's choice of visiting and using crisis pregnancy centres.