The Spring 2002 issue of the Pro-Choice Press caught the eye of Campaign Life Coalition BC President John Hof. Included in the newsletter, written by Pro-Choice Action Network head Joyce Arthur, was this statement: “In March and April, we held two “Media Relations for Women Activists” workshops. Women activists from non-profit groups throughout the Lower Mainland were invited, and the attendees represented a diverse mix of issues and interests. Some of the topics covered were: the nature of news; what’s newsworthy; creating a publicity plan; framing your message; dealing with reporters; tips for TV, radio, press conferences, public speaking, and more. Attendees participated in exercises on writing media releases and prioritizing key messages on an issue.”

Hof knew right away that this was one of the conferences sponsored in part by a grant from the B.C. government. He also knew that he should sit tight and wait for a media barrage.

“We have learned that whenever the abortion industry says they are meeting with the media, this is usually codewords for Vancouver Sun reporter Kim Bolan. After that, there really is nothing to do but sit and wait to see what muck Kim will rake up against those who oppose abortion.”

The target this time was well-known pro-life activist Sissy von Dehn. Especially loathed by the abortion industry, chiefly because of her purchase of the house immediately next to Everywoman’s Health Centre, Vancouver’s first free-standing abortuary.

In a surprising twist, Bolan managed to spotlight the story on a company that von Dehn’s husband, Ulf, has owned for a number of years. The company had recently won a cleaning contract at BC Children’s Hospital.

Members of the BC Health Employees Union were up in arms. B.C.’s abortion industry, known to keep extensive files on all pro-life activists, had provided information on the von Dehn’s. But it was only partially accurate.

Front page headlines suggested that somehow, Sissy von Dehn had a direct link to the company, and that somehow, because of her beliefs, there would be serious security breach at BC Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

The concern stems from the fact that BC Women’s and Children‚s Hospital runs the largest abortion mill in the province. It also is one of the few institutions that commits eugenic abortions, where infants sometimes are born alive after the abortion.

The Company that Ulf von Dehn owns, is called A&A Service Company. The area where they won the cleaning contract is separate from area where abortions are committed.

But the Vancouver Sun wouldn’t let up, choosing not to let the logistics of the situation tarnish their target, a well-known pro-life activist.

Despite evidence that would prove that Sissy von Dehn had no day-to-day contact with staff, the damage was done. The hospital canceled the contract.

Lani Dehek, a nurse at the hospital, went so far to say that anyone “who has been actively involved in anti-abortion activity should not be allowed on site alongside our patients.”

Indeed, cleaning staff have been harassed at the hospital and even barred from eating in the cafeteria.

CLC BC head John Hof was adamant: “What’s next: screen patients for their beliefs before they can get care? Fire of all pro-life physicians, nurses, and even HEU employees if they are pro-life? This was muck-raking on the part of the Vancouver Sun, designed totally to discredit and “get” someone whom the abortion industry does not like.

“The ironic thing about this, is that members of the Health Employees Union conducted an illegal sit-in at the same hospital just one week earlier … forcing that section of the hospital to shut down. There was virtually no media coverage. If a pro-lifer did that they’d call out the army. The only threat to patient care revolves around these union thugs, not Sissy von Dehn.”

At press time A&A Services have threatened to sue the Hospital Employees Union over a Television commercial that they say links them with hospital cleaning problems in foreign nations. The HEU is battling the provincial government on privatization, and is using the controversy as fodder.

However, the whole plan to discredit a well-known pro-lifer might backfire. Added Hof: “Now that we have the admission in the media that a Children’s Hospital provides abortions, and indeed is one of the largest provider of abortions in the province, we can take that information to the public. They’ve tried to hide it for a long time. Babies being born alive after an abortion is not the thing you take to the public when you are fundraising. Now the word is out and we will develop our strategies around it.”