"Pregnant? Confused? We can help." says the pamphlet.
Once inside they usher you into a soft-lit room with a comfortable couch, a coffee table, scale models of fetuses nestled in a womb... they offer you water or tea. Not coffee however because they don't want to damage the baby.
These counselling rooms are setup via registered pro-life charities. The women who work there are often paid, not necessarily volunteers. They've made it their living to convince women to have babies instead of an abortion. The charities sometimes also gives away baby clothes, cribs and diapers.
And yes, its still your choice, but they will bombard you with a series of lies designed to make you rethink your decision.
Lie #1: Terminating a pregnancy is dangerous. You could die during the procedure.
Lie #2: You may suffer permanent damage and never be able to get pregnant again.
Lie #3: Abortion clinics sell "pieces of babies" to medical research, describing in detail how "a big truck arrives and all the fetal parts are collected in a bin and put up for sale".
Lie #4: A terrifying description of the abortion procedure, with pictures of bloody aborted fetuses handpicked to look as horrible as possible.
Lie #5: Abortion is always - ALWAYS - the wrong decision because its unnatural.
Lie #6: You will become hardened, lose part of your soul and suffer from 'Post Abortion Depression' for the rest of your life.
Lie #7: Terminating a pregnancy will increase your chances of getting breast cancer and ovarian cancer by 80%. (Any idiot can tell that statistic is a flat out lie, but the few gullible people out there might fall for it.)
Such misleading information is designed to discourage women from choosing an abortion. When asked they will claim to be pro-choice and non-judgmental support, but in reality they're feeding you as much false information as they can in an effort to scare you.
The modern abortion clinic is a clean, professional atmosphere. There is no pushing women one way or another. If they're there in the first place it usually means they've already made their decision. The 'crisis pregnancy centre' next door is there preying on the confused and promoting free pregnancy tests and free counselling to promote the other options of adoption and single-parenthood, all the while promoting the idea that abortion is something to be avoided at all possible costs.
Now don't get me wrong, I support adoption and single mothers. I think people who adopt are fabulous people and every child would be lucky to have such loving parents. And single mothers are the bravest, most courageous people I can think of.
But it ultimately comes down to the choice of the individual. Trying to scare and trick someone into choosing a different option is immoral. Let people think for themselves and they will always pick the course of action which is right for themselves.
These centres are run by compassionate people who clearly believe what they're doing is right, and they firmly believe lying to convince women towards adoption and single motherhood is an 'acceptable sin' from their religious perspective.
Throwing false statistics at women in such a case could arguably be worthy of suing a crisis pregnancy centre, but I have yet to hear of a case of someone suing such a place. They don't make any promises to help support the women. Their goal is to convince a woman towards a different decision and then move on to the next confused woman.
Crisis pregnancy centres are here to stay however. The era of protesters picketing outside abortion clinics is gone. Humiliating doctors, threatening violence, blowing up abortion clinics with explosives... some of this still happens but its become more rare. The focus these days is to trick women into walking into the wrong building and convincing them that they've made the wrong decision.
And the biggest lie they will tell you is: “We’ve seen so many women that said, ‘Oh my goodness, I wish I had been told the truth and if someone would have told me, I would have kept my baby.’”
And they can say that because there's nothing to back it up. No statistics. No quotes from actual women.
And I know it to be completely false because I know plenty of women who have had abortions over the years. Not a single one regrets it. True, there might be a few women out there who do regret it (ie. they became religious later in life and became convinced that the abortion they had years earlier was murder), but these born-again Christians are - excuse my French - often full of shit and willing to say anything to promote their new found religion.
All of this misleading information just makes it more difficult for REAL family planning centres (which offer advice about abortion, adoption and single motherhood but are not judgemental about it). They end up spending a lot of their time trying to explain the real statistics, dispel the myths being promoted by the crisis pregnancy centres and be reassuring and supportive of whatever decision the woman chooses to make.
Here's a fact for you: The chances of having complications during or from an abortion is so low you're more likely to have a fatal car accident between the time you decide to have the abortion and the three days later when you finally do. The technique is ridiculously safe (and if it wasn't it wouldn't be allowed in the first place).
There are 17 crisis pregnancy centres in Toronto alone, paid for by 14 local religious charities. Across Canada there is an estimated 197 centres spreading misinformation, including 83 in Ontario alone... in contrast there is only 151 abortion clinics in Canada (36 in Ontario)
But that is nothing compared to the 4,000+ crisis pregnancy centres operating in the United States where they often get funding from Republican party members, and local state funding depending on who is the governor at the time.
In Canada they receive zero funding from provincial and federal governments. Health Canada has no role in telling women what to do with their own bodies beyond asking people to try and live in a healthy fashion.
Obviously you shouldn't go to a crisis pregnancy centre for information about abortion because they're only going to give misinformation. TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR INSTEAD. Doctors are trained to be non-judgemental in these matters, to do otherwise would lead to malpractice suit. The doctor can refer you to people who can give you more information and that info will be accurate.
There are three main risks that crisis pregnancy centres claim are associated with abortion. According to medical experts they are just myths and exaggerations.
Depending on which centre you visit they might claim the increased risk of breast cancer is "as high as 80%".
The U.S. National Cancer Institute convened a workshop of more than a hundred leading international experts in 2003 to review the existing studies and concluded that neither abortion nor miscarriage increases the risk of developing breast cancer. The Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society both support this conclusion. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada recommends that women be reassured that there is zero risk when they seek information about abortion from their doctors.
The centre will claim abortion can cause negative psychological effects ranging from sadness and guilt to substance abuse and suicidal thoughts, claiming this is based on first-hand knowledge of talking to people but with no statistics to back it up. They will mention post-abortion support programs, which tend to be Bible-based and lead women toward asking for forgiveness for terminating a pregnancy. They describe it as “Post Abortion Stress” or “Post Abortion Syndrome”, sometimes referred to simply as PAS.
The American Psychiatric Association does not list either “Post Abortion Stress” or “Post Abortion Syndrome” in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, considered the authoritative index of mental illnesses. The association issued a statement in 2008 noting the lack of evidence linking abortion to psychiatric illness.
“A woman may have many emotional reactions to an unwanted pregnancy and abortion – most commonly relief, but also sadness and a sense of loss. These feelings can coexist and, like feelings about any important life decision, they can vary over time,” said the statement, adding that negative feelings are often associated with the circumstances that led the woman to choose abortion, and not the procedure itself.
Crisis pregnancy centres say abortion increases the risk of future miscarriages and premature births, often with counsellors telling stories of women they had met who had chosen to terminate their pregnancies in the past and were now suffering because they are infertile.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in the United Kingdom reviewed induced abortions and concluded there are no proven links between terminating a pregnancy and subsequent infertility. They did note a tiny increase in the chance of future miscarriage but noted that the evidence is inconclusive. The relative risks are extremely rare and more influenced by the age of the mother, which becomes more infertile as their biological clock keeps ticking.
Minor damage to the uterus happens less than once per 1,000 procedures, but the damage is so minor it only requires corrective surgery less than once every 10,000 procedures. This is according to 'A Clinician’s Guide to Medical and Surgical Abortion' (Churchill-Livingstone, 1999).
Thus the risks are so low it becomes self-evident these stories have been ridiculously exaggerated.
"Given time an exaggeration becomes a rumour, a rumour becomes a myth, a myth becomes a legend and then legend is misconstrued as fact." - Suzanne MacNevin.
Open Letter to Anti-Abortionists