Let me make this clear: You may agree or disagree with this blog entry solely on your preconceptions of abortion. This blog is not about whether or not abortion should be legal (it is in Canada. In Ontario it is a practice that is covered by OHIP) - it is about lying for Jesus.
I've recently noticed an advertisement for The Pregnancy Centre on a local website in Sarnia. I have discussed this "organization", in person, with a number of people and the discussion almost always seems to be trumped by the word "abortion". I'm not pro-abortion (I don't think anyone is) and I promised my mom that I'd never have one - a promise that I have kept and will keep. (My mom was proud to hear that I'd never consider an abortion but she was probably concerned I didn't realize that, as a boy, I couldn't get pregnant anyway.)
The Pregnancy Centre is a front for a religious attack and not only on the woman's right to choose - but (and most importantly) on a woman's right to make an INFORMED choice. They spend a lot of time advertising many of the services they offer - pregnancy tests, options counseling, support groups and material support. I applaud organizations for their willingness to fill gaps in services and I find it even more noble when they are able to offer the services at no charge to the client.
Though the services (or most of them) are offered "free" at The Pregnancy Centre, not all of them are - some come with pretty serious requirements. However, most of the services they offer are offered for free already. Pregnancy testing is even covered by OHIP! Counseling is also available (and from licensed professionals, none-the-less) as well as support groups. More importantly, the counseling available elsewhere (and government supported) is non-sectarian and is designed to be based on the best available knowledge not an ancient text.
The "Material Support" that is offered from the Centre is not quite free - yes, you can borrow clothing from them but in order to do so, you have to take part in their activities. To get "baby bucks" (as they call them) to "buy" stuff from them you have to take their courses.
The problem that we should all have with The Pregnancy Centre is that it is a front for religious instruction and indoctrination. The agency is not government funded (and it shouldn't be), it is funded by a couple dozen churches, is (or was) operated by the wife of a Baptist minister in Sarnia and the sales pitches that it makes to churches is FAR different from those that it makes to the general public. The Pregnancy Centre lies for Jesus.
The Pregnancy Centre's "options" counseling never includes a referral or true information on getting an abortion - they spend a substantial amount of time speaking with clients about belief and trust in "god" and discourage abortion with "horror stories" (yes, stories - some of which could be completely made up and others might be exaggerations). Vulnerable and confused women (often teenagers and young adults) are subjected to images and stories to discourage them from considering their options.
Whether or not you agree with abortion, lying about it is not a reasonable or humane way to "inform" a person - especially a person facing an enormous life-changing decision.
If you know someone (or are, yourself) in a situation where you need advice and information about the options available to you in situations like these - stay away from The Pregnancy Centre - misinformation, shame and Jesus are a dangerous mix.
(Options counseling, material support and support groups have a strong Christian/Jesus focused theme. Don't believe me? Let them tell you about it...)