On Dec. 15, CTV News in British Columbia launched a sting operation against the South Fraser Pregnancy Options Centre in Surrey, B.C., with what Option’s Centre executive director Laura Lansink said was “the hope that our peer-counsellor would give false or biased information.”

The Pregnancy Options centres are associated with the Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services (CAPSS), a national, non-political, registered Christian charity, committed to equipping pregnancy support services.

CTV sent a woman, named only as “Sheila,” to the Surrey Options centre posing as a legitimate client in distress because of an unplanned pregnancy and asking for help. Lansink said in a press release that a volunteer peer-counsellor was able to see “Sheila” immediately and spent close to an hour talking through the woman’s concerns as well helping her to understand her choices.

“What this peer-counsellor didn’t know, however, was that the woman had actually been sent by CTV News and that the woman was secretly recording the entire session,” Lansink said, pointing out that Sheila had agreed to, and signed, an agreement of services which says in part: “please turn off all devices with recording capabilities prior to the session. POC Staff and Volunteers do not consent to any recorded conversations.”

CTV reports that the volunteer peer-counsellor “asked Sheila about her background, the circumstances of the pregnancy, and if she had been abused. They offered referrals to hospitals for any sexually transmitted diseases and said that she was not alone struggling with a tough decision.”

The volunteer peer-counsellor also referred Sheila to a brochure produced by CAPSS that discusses fetal development, adoption and the risks associated with abortion. Lansink stated that the CAPSS brochure is an up-to-date and accurate compilation of medical research that was reviewed and proofread by 25 professional counsellors, physicians, and medical researchers across Canada before going to print.

Lansink revealed that on Jan. 5, Jon Woodward of CTV News called the Centre, saying that he had received a ‘complaint’ from a client who believed the Centre had given her false medical information regarding the risks of abortion. “In a subsequent phone call he however admitted that it was not a client with a complaint. Instead this person had been sent from CTV News to the Centre with a hidden camera with the intent of exposing our organization for providing supposedly false information,”  Lansink said.

Lansink noted that Woodward was given a copy of the CAPSS brochure, “yet he has let us know that he ‘disbelieves’ the studies, research, and information that the brochure cites.”

The CTV report on the sting was aired Jan. 17, reporting that “staff welcomed Sheila and seemed genuinely concerned about her well-being.” However, the report went on to focus on the allegation that crisis pregnancy centres give misinformation. For example, despite the Options Centre’s clear statement that they are not a medical facility and do not perform or refer for abortions, CTV reported that Sheila “pressed” the volunteer peer-counselor “on where an abortion would be available,” then quoted Greg Smith, director of a sexual health and abortion referral centre, saying “patients have come to him complaining that rather than being given objective advice, they were steered away from abortion.” Smith told CTV, “we hear from time to time that people who have gone to those centres come out enraged.”
CTV News cited Dr. Wendy Norman of B.C. Women’s Hospital saying that infection after abortion “was uncommon in North American hospitals – about one in every 200 cases,” that uterine perforations ranged “between three in 1,000 to one in 10,000 cases,” and that infertility from abortion “is a mark of an illegal abortion.”“Abortions performed by physicians and accredited health professionals have been shown indisputably to not have these long term effects,” Norman is quoted to have said.

However, studies carried out in the U.S. and Canada contradict Norman’s assertions that infection after abortion are about one-half of one percent, and can in fact range up to 17 percent. An American study of the psychological responses of women after abortion also discovered that seventeen per cent of the participants reported physical complications such as bleeding or pelvic infection after their first-trimester abortion.

Information available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 386 deaths from legal abortion in the U.S. between 1973 and 2004. In 2006, the most recent year for which data were available, six women were reported to have died as a result of complications from known legal induced abortions.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan issued revised guidelines in 2011 that outline the numerous risks of abortion and the duty of the counselling physician or abortionist to inform any woman contemplating abortion of these risks. The guidelines state that information provided to women should include not only the “precise nature” of the abortion procedure, but also “the known immediate risks.” The document gives as examples of the immediate risks “uterine perforation, infection, hemorrhage.”

In an update received by LifeSiteNews, Laura Lansink said that while many supporters of the South Fraser Pregnancy Options Centre had suggested she file a formal complaint regarding the tactics used by CTV News, she indicated that this was not a course the crisis pregnancy centre intends to follow.

“At this point we won’t be taking any further action as we want to keep our focus and our energies on what we do best… each day helping the woman that comes to us for help when she has nowhere else to turn,” Lansink said.

This is not the first time the media has gone after crisis pregnancy centres in such gotcha exercises with reporters posing as abortion-minded women. In 2010, the Toronto Star targeted several Toronto area CPCs including Aid to Women, which was also the victim of a W5 sting operation in 2001. Other CAPPS centres, including ones in Alberta, have been  targets of CTV in recent years.

– with files from Paul Tuns

A longer version of this article appeared Jan.18 at LifeSiteNews.com and is reprinted with permission.