Sunday, January 6, 2013

Joyce Arthur's Pro-Can grant: an investigation

(Part one below appeared in the November/December 2012 issue of LifeCanada Journal)

This is part one of a two-part analysis of the $27,400 grant Joyce Arthur received in 2009 for writing her report "Exposing Crisis Pregnancy Centres in British ColumbiaIn 2009 Joyce Arthur wrote a report criticizing crisis pregnancy centres in British Columbia. The next issue will contain part two. The purpose of the report was to:
"publicly expose the anti-woman and anti-feminist agenda of CPCs, and by doing so, work to mitigate discriminatory attitudes towards to promote institutional change by ensuring that health organizations such as hospitals, clinics, and doctors' offices do not inappropriately refer women to CPC's, and instead have feminist-based alternatives to which they can refer women." (1)

In 2010, through an Access to Information request it was revealed that Ms. Arthur and her group, Pro-Choice Action Network (Pro-Can) received $27,400 from Status of Women Canada (SWC) to write this "Expose".

Then On October 29, 2012 we learned that The Christian Advocacy Society of Greater Vancouver and the Crisis Pregnancy Centre of Vancouver Society sued Joyce Arthur and the Pro-Can in Supreme Court.

The complaint states in part:
"The report has been widely read and disseminated online and republished by other organizations and used in media coverage, including a three-part investigative series by CTV News in Vancouver...The results of the harm done to the plaintiffs' reputation have included, inter alia, adverse impacts on the plaintiffs' relationships with, and ability to engage in its non-profit and funding activities in respect of, prospective clients, donors, and community partners," (2)

For anyone who has read the report (3), it is difficult to imagine how it ever received government funding at all. But it did. What happened? How did tax dollars end up going to an extremist organizations such as Pro-Can?

First. The funds were granted under the Women's Program at SWC. One of the goals to this program is to achieve "social justice". This was part of the pitch that Pro-Can used in order to get funding, and told us the Implications of not receiving this funding:
“Without funding from SWC, the organization will probably not be able to carry out this initiative. As a result, CPC's would be able to continue to operate by employing deceptive and misleading service delivery tactics and many more pregnant women, especially those most marginalized, would continue to have their reproductive rights eroded because their would be no critical awareness of what is happening. Ergo, SWC may not be able to fulfil its commitment of ensuring social justice for all women in Canada.” (1)

A definition of social justice from Wikipedia:
"A socially just society is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, understands and values human rights, and recognizes the dignity of every human being."

How does demeaning and criticizing those organizations who support women who choose to keep their baby and not abort it--recognize the dignity of every human being? It doesn't.

Second. It is clear from the documentation that Pro-Can had already concluded--without actually having done their so-called research and report--that PCs were already deceiving and misleading women.

One example is that the original proposal had a goal that CPCs become marginalized:
”...CPC's switch their focus to helping women who want to have babies instead of stopping women from having abortions—or if they continue doing the latter, they become more marginalized in their communities...”

So why did they need grant money then, for research that was already a foregone conclusion?

Third, funding. Of the $27,400 grant, $8,125 went to office expenses, etc. The remainder $19,275 went to salaries, as well as to hiring a family doctor and a medical researcher to discredit material published by CPC's. Specifically, "to go through the Volunteer Training Manual for the Crisis Pregnancy Centre Ministry, and identify and refute any medical errors or scientific distortions. They produced a detailed report critiquing and refuting many aspects of the manual, and providing support from the scientific literature. There were serious inaccuracies and distortions in many areas. These errors are taught to the counsellors, who pass them on to unsuspecting women." (3)

The doctor was Dr. Konia Trouton a Family Physician from Vancouver Island Women’s Clinic. The website from this doctor's clinic posts these warnings to women about CPCs:
"A word of caution: if you surf the net you will come across many anti-abortion websites that have frightening and inaccurate information about abortion. The resources and links page on this website has a list of pro-choice organizations that are good sources of information. Also beware of "CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTRES". Antichoice groups sometimes set up offices, distress centres, phone lines or 'clinics' that pretend to help pregnant women with information and pregnancy tests. Many of these groups try to influence vulnerable women to continue their pregnancy by frightening them. Some will say anything to have you keep your pregnancy. Not all of their information about gestational development, health risks and after-effects of abortion is correct." (4)

This clinic performs abortions--up to 20 weeks gestation I might add--for which the clinic is obviously well paid. Isn't this a conflict of interest, when a doctor who receives money for the abortions she performs, to then scare women away from CPCs?

And did Ms. Arthur receive any actual funds from abortion clinics to help with this project? It is unclear. However her proposal stated this:
"For this project we would work closely with abortion clinics. We would also liaise with women's centres across BC, family planning clinics (e.g. Options for Sexual health clinics)...we have no financial partners for this project, but we do plan to ask the abortion clinics to contribute funds for expenses...”

(Part two continued in next issue of the Journal)

(1) Access to Information request received from Status of Women Canada (SWC) in 2009

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