Crisis pregnancy centers are an especially reprehensible tool of the pro-life movement, and an investigative piece in the Toronto Star reminds us why. The Star sent an undercover reporter to crisis pregnancy centers around Toronto and assembled a very disturbing picture of the clinics’ methods. Of course, they lie, claiming that:
- Abortion causes breast cancer: “women who have an abortion increase their risk of breast cancer by 80 per cent.”
- Abortion “increases the risk of future miscarriages and premature births…and could even cause infertility.”
- Abortion leads to a cluster of emotional ailments known as “post-abortion syndrome,” including “anniversary grief”: “If someone had an abortion May 30, then every time May 30 came around, every year, they’d get depressed or they would maybe be promiscuous that month or they would drink heavy or they would just cry the whole month, and not understand why (they are) crying in May of every year.”
- Abortion clinics sell “pieces of babies”: “‘There was a big truck that was out there. I don’t know if you saw it: a big truck?’ she asks, describing untruthfully how the parts are collected in a bin and picked up for sale.”
I don’t know which is more disturbing: the medical falsehoods or the often vaguer claims about abortion leading to emotional distress (about the fetus black market I have nothing to say). These pregnancy centers often have a professional air; they may even be clinical in appearance, suggesting medical authority and responsibility. So when someone at such a place gives you an unequivocal medical statistic, you may give it more credence than you would the man in the subway spinning conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, the breast cancer and fertility statistics are no more evidence-based than the subway seer’s message.
Of course, any discussion of post-abortion syndrome is also a medical falsehood, since the American Psychiatric Association has stated time and again that there is no such syndrome. But the post-abortion syndrome myth sometimes takes root more easily, as it’s supported by deeply-flawed “studies” and lends itself to anecdotal evidence (the director of one crisis pregnancy in Toronto claims to know a woman “who found herself unable to vacuum her house because it brought flashbacks of an abortion.”)
Most sickening of all is the disingenuousness of the CPC workers, who feign neutrality, who often downplay or deny their religious affiliations, and who claim to be helping women make an informed decision. So then why did every CPC director refuse to comment for the Star’s story?
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Aggressive pro-lifers will always be on the sidelines of a woman’s path to an abortion clinic (or, unfortunately, right in the middle of the path). But when anti-abortion activists claim medical legitimacy in the form of a similarly-situated “health clinic,” they had better be ready to submit to the same scrutiny as actual health clinics. And they should be shut down for deliberately lying to women, as any medical practice would be.