Two Vancouver-area crisis pregnancy centers are shocked that a judge in British Columbia ruled that top abortion activist Joyce Arthur did not defame them in a 2009 report that accused CPCs of terrorizing, deceiving, and lying to women.
“The judge’s conclusion – that the report’s allegations that we challenged are directed at the 4,200 CPCS across North America, not specifically about us or CPCs in BC – comes as a shock,” wrote Brian Norton, executive director of the Vancouver & Richmond Crisis Pregnancy Centre and the Burnaby & New Westminster Crisis Pregnancy Centre, in a press release August 28.
In the report, titled “Exposing Crisis Pregnancy Centres in British Columbia,” Arthur defines CPCs as “anti-choice Christian ministries, often pretending to be non-biased medical clinics or counseling centres. Their main goal is to stop women from having abortions and to convert women to Christianity.”
The report’s stated objective was to “research anti-abortion counseling centres, or fake ‘clinics,’ in British Columbia.”
Justice Loryl D. Russell ruled from B.C.’s Supreme Court on August 26 that the two centers were mentioned only indirectly in the report. The allegedly defamatory statements in question were ruled “not of and concerning” those CPCs, and would not “lead the ordinary person” to discredit them.
Norton said that he was disappointed with the judgment. “We believe that people who stumble across the report online will indeed understand the report to make the allegations of which we sued to be about our two centres, and other centres in BC, and this will dissuade them from seeking the help they need which we can provide.”
The non-profit, faith-based charities are run by volunteers and provide compassionate help to women experiencing unplanned pregnancies, post-abortion grief, domestic violence, and sexual assault.
Christian Advocacy Society of Greater Vancouver, which runs the two CPCs, sued Arthur and the Pro-Choice Action Network last year, claiming that the 2009 report misrepresented CPC services, harming the centers’ ability to provide care and help women in crisis.
The CPCs became increasingly concerned when internet searches for “crisis pregnancy centre Vancouver” placed the report just below links to their sites.
Arthur is the executive director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada. Raised in a Christian fundamentalist home in Ontario, she now resides in B.C. where she promotes expanding abortion, legalizing prostitution, and atheism.
The CPCs deny Arthur’s allegations against them. The CPCs have until Sept. 25 to appeal the decision.
“Whether or not Ms. Arthur has any evidence that a handful of the thousands of crisis pregnancy centres in North America may have behaved unethically on occasion, the Vancouver CPC and Burnaby CPC adhere to the highest operational standards and a code of counseling ethics as mandated by our membership in the Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services,” wrote Norton in the press release.
“Our Crisis Pregnancy Centres in Vancouver and Burnaby are a safe place for clients. We maintain the highest standard of honesty and integrity in fulfilling our responsibilities, and will never misrepresent our services,” Norton added.
CAS was ordered to pay costs. A fund was specifically raised for the legal action, and no general donations have been used.
Despite the legal blow, the CPCs have confirmed that they will continue to serve women in crisis. To date, they have helped more than 16,000 women.
A version of this article originally appeared Aug. 30 at LifeSiteNews and is used with permission.