Study: Review of “Crisis Pregnancy Centre” Websites in Canada
May 18, 2016 – The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada has published a study that examined all of the websites of “crisis” pregnancy centres” in Canada. The study shows that most websites either present misinformation on abortion or sexual health issues, and/or fail to disclose their anti-choice or religious agenda or that they are not medical clinics.
View the study here (Abstract and Conclusion reproduced below):
Review of “Crisis Pregnancy Centre” Websites in Canada (PDF, 51 pages)
Read our press release here:
Study Finds Misinformation and Deception on Websites of Anti-Abortion “Crisis Pregnancy Centres” in Canada
View the Excel spreadsheet with data on all CPC websites (opens in Excel).
Authors: Joyce Arthur, Rebecca Bailin, Kathy Dawson, Megan Glenwright,
Autumn Reinhardt-Simpson, Meg Sykes, and Alison Zimmer.
Special thanks also go to our team of 19 volunteers listed on page 4.
Citation for study:
Arthur J, and Bailin R, Dawson K, Glenwright M, Reinhardt-Simpson A, Sykes M, and Zimmer A. May 2016. Review of “Crisis Pregnancy Centre” Websites in Canada. Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada. (http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/CPC-study/CPC-Website-Study-ARCC-2016.pdf)
For more info, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 26, 2017 – Please help us stop government funding of “crisis pregnancy centres”. We’re launching a “Letter of the Week” campaign targeting specific gov’t agencies and officials. Check the link for the latest sample letter you can send!
January 11, 2017 – Anti-Abortion Agencies Get Millions in Government Funding. CPCs have received millions in government funding over the last five years, ARCC has discovered. We examined the online tax filings of 112 CPCs that are registered charities. Of those, 58 received about $3.5 million in government funding from 2011 to 2015. Also, since charities don’t pay income tax on any of their other revenue, and also issue tax receipts that reduce donors’ taxable income, it increases the tax load for all Canadians by draining federal tax coffers of at least $5.7 million, with provinces also facing losses.
Links: (documents sent to CRA, except #9)
ARCC’s Dec. 1 letter to Canada Revenue Agency, requesting audits on 34 CPCs
1 – Complete CPC Listing (lists all CPC charities in our study including business numbers)
2 – Listing of CPCs with reporting discrepancies (lists CPC charities that underreported or did not report government funding on their charity return)
3 – Listing of grants received by CPCs (listing of grant name/type for each of the reported CPCs)
4 – Gifts to Qualified Donees (listing of yearly amounts reported by CPC charities for Qualified Donees)
5 – Detailed data sheet for reported CPCs (data pulled from government websites and CRA returns)
8 – CPCs Should Not Have Charitable Status (position paper with background)
9 – Grant discrepancies with graphs (Excel file with all data, and graphs and pie charts that clarify and summarize the data)
New: Federal Summer Jobs – Google Drive – reports of federal grants received by CPCs (2011-2015) from the Summer Jobs Program run by Service Canada.
Some key elements of the study are reproduced below for ease of reference.
“Crisis Pregnancy Centres” (CPCs) are anti-choice agencies that present themselves as unbiased medical clinics or counselling centres, and whose ostensible goal is to provide women with non-judgemental information on all their options when faced with an unintended pregnancy. However, CPCs are not medical facilities, most are Christian ministries, they generally will not refer clients for abortion or contraception, and many promote misinformation such as the existence of “Post-abortion Syndrome,” which is not a medically recognized condition. CPCs in Canada are not currently regulated.
This study by the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) identified 180 CPCs across Canada. Of those, 166 had websites. As some CPCs shared the same websites, 100 unique websites were reviewed to determine what the centres were advertising online, and to look for misinformation or indications of deception. The findings reveal that a large majority of the 166 CPCs do one or both of the following on their websites: 1) spread misleading or inaccurate information about abortion, contraception, sexually-transmitted infections, sexual activity, or adoption; or 2) present themselves deceptively, such as by not disclosing that they won’t refer for abortion, or hiding their religious stance from prospective clients. We recommend that CPCs in Canada be regulated to require them to be transparent and medically accurate, with the goals of protecting public health and respecting the rights of patients seeking healthcare.
Highlights of Results
Our evaluation of the websites of 166 CPCs found that:
- 60% (99) did not have disclaimers that they don’t refer for abortion or contraception.
- 5% (8) claimed a link between abortion and breast cancer, which has been scientifically rejected.
- 9% (15) cited other medical risks of abortion that were exaggerated or not scientifically proven.
- 48% (79) mentioned negative psychological consequences, primarily in the context of “Post-abortion Syndrome”, which is not medically recognized.
- 7% (12) claimed that artificial contraception is unreliable, while 5% (8) gave false or misleading information about contraception or sexually-transmitted infections.
- 24% (39) promoted sexual abstinence as the ideal solution for unwed women.
- 28% (47) overemphasized adoption at the expense of other possible options.
- 96% (159) revealed a religious affiliation or agenda, but only 24% (39) were transparent and upfront about it
- 33% (55) did not have disclaimers that they weren’t a medical facility and/or that clients should see a doctor for medical services.
- At least 35% (59) offered a sex education program to youth or local schools and communities. Of those, at least 68% (40 of 59) were being offered to schools, including public schools.
- Further, 68% of the 180 CPCs we identified (122) had charitable tax status.
Conclusions and Recommendations
This study supports the need for more transparency and professionalism by CPCs in Canada, because they purport to help and advise women on healthcare, yet often provide dangerous medical misinformation while deceptively presenting themselves as unbiased centres that assist clients with all options. This may require regulation to address, as most CPCs are unlikely to voluntarily reform themselves because of their religious anti-abortion ideology.
In two related reports on CPCs in Quebec (Gonin et al. 2014, pg. 144; FQPN 2014, pg 39-40), the authors recommend a government-created website that would provide impartial guidance and scientifically sound information on abortion, thereby serving as a central reference tool for women and practitioners. This could help reduce the reach and negative impact of misinformation provided by CPCs. Further, the authors of the Quebec reports recommend that online training be developed and provided to volunteer counsellors who advise women with unintended pregnancies. This would help establish minimum professional standards and protect public health.
The findings of our study lead us to the following recommendations – with the caveat that they do not necessarily apply to all CPCs:
- Establish disclosure notice laws at the municipal or provincial level – for example, requiring CPCs to post clear, prominent notices at their premises and websites that they do not refer for abortion or contraception, that they are not medical facilities, and that they are Christian ministries opposed to abortion.
- Ensure that CPCs are not publically funded.
- Revoke the charitable tax status of CPCs that have it, based on the biased misinformation they provide to clients.
- Ensure that CPCs are not allowed to teach sex-education in public schools.
Remove CPCs from referral lists at doctor’s offices, clinics, hospitals, and social service agencies.
- Crack down on misleading advertising of CPCs, since they do not provide professional, unbiased counselling services; they impart distorted or medically-inaccurate information on abortion and contraception; and their counsellors are not properly trained or registered.