When Planned Parenthood of Ottawa (PPO) and former Globe and Mail columnist Heather Mallick targeted the First Place Pregnancy Centre (FPPC) over the Better Halves SENSational Tree Raffle, they maligned not only FPPC, but all crisis pregnancy centres. As a CPC executive director myself, I take exception.

Since 1992, Ottawa’s FPPC has been “offering compassionate support and assistance to anyone facing an unplanned pregnancy or experiencing post-abortion stress.”

On Nov. 24, FPPC was named one of the beneficiaries of a raffle sponsored by the Better Halves – wives and girlfriends of Ottawa Senators hockey team players. The Senators’ own Foundation had planned to double the money raised, for an anticipated total contribution to the FPPC of $25,000.

In a Nov. 27 media release, PPO executive director Stéphanie Piché notified the public “that a portion of their money will go to the First Place Pregnancy Centre, which we consider to be an anti-choice organization.”

On Nov. 30, pro-abortion columnist Mallick asserted caustically at cbc.ca that the raffle would harm “the confused, friendless young women who may want to consider the option of abortion, but are going to be lied to and maybe bullied out of it.”

On Dec. 6, FPPC graciously ended the controversy while trusting in the continued generosity of its donors. Executive director Terri Mazik stated, “It is with the best interest of the (Sens) Foundation in mind that First Place Pregnancy Centre voluntarily withdraws from participating in the Christmas Tree Raffle.”

Knowing abortion advocates as I do, I want to refute the FPPC criticism.

PPO alleged that women going to the FPPC sometimes report being “angry because they feel as if they were tricked into believing that they were going to a pro-choice counselling session only to discover that that was not the case when they got there.” Mazik countered, “The fact that we do not offer abortion referrals is plainly stated on our website and is reiterated to anyone making an appointment. At the beginning of a client’s first appointment, he/she reads and signs an intake form that clearly states we do not provide abortion referrals.”

To help with the actual reasons why the pregnancy has been defined as a crisis, CPC’s like the FPPC spend money when a client chooses life. Abortion providers earn money when patients choose abortion and have an inherent conflict of interest when they offer options counselling.

Mallick, a professionally trained journalist, claimed that Revenue Canada told her the FPPC is not a registered charity. A call or a click would have clarified that FPPC is, in fact, registered as Crisis Pregnancy Centre of Ottawa. On Dec. 6, Mallick corrected her information when her article was re-posted at rabble.ca – but she added that the tax-deductible donations are “a windfall for this sinister group.”

Furthermore, Mallick criticized informational, activist and religious links she found on the FPPC website, notwithstanding a standard disclaimer that the other organizations were not affiliates. Mallick has explained elsewhere that religion “no longer has a place in the common life.” She conveniently ignores the advocacy for her own ideology, secular humanism, on the abortion facility website of her personal friend, Henry Morgentaler.

Heather Greenwood, PPO’s volunteer and options program co-ordinator, insisted on “the right of every woman facing an unintended pregnancy to make an informed decision based on all available information. Denying access to information on any pregnancy option, in this case abortion, is to us anti-choice.”

PPO’s website presents abortion as relatively benign. It speaks of the “myth of infertility,” when each year an estimated 1,000 Canadian women become infertile due to induced abortion. It doesn’t mention breast cancer, of which the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons warned last fall “induced abortion (was) found to be the best predictor.” PPO admits that post-abortive women may experience “mixed emotions,” offering vague help for that contingency. Actually, Finnish research shows a suicide rate in the year following abortion seven times higher than in the year following childbirth.

Who is being lied to? Who is being “sinister” by withholding information? Who should indeed have charitable support? And who deserves a full apology?

Knowing pro-lifers as I do, like Mazik I am confident that FPPC’s supporters, both existing and newly generated by this pro-abortion attack, will come through – with even more than the $25,000 that FPPC lost in potential raffle proceeds. More than that, these supporters will back up their donations with the ongoing prayers that, like cash, are needed all year-round.