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September 25, 2013
Crisis Pregnancy Centres media release re: Defamation Action
Crisis Pregnancy Centres won’t appeal defamation case,
but will respond to pro-choicer’s allegations
VANCOUVER – The Vancouver and Burnaby Crisis Pregnancy Centres (the “Centres”) will not appeal the August 26th decision of the BC Supreme Court dismissing their defamation lawsuit against pro-choice activist Joyce Arthur. Instead, the Centres will respond to Arthur’s report, which was at the centre of the lawsuit, at a later date.
“In 2009, Joyce Arthur, a pro-choice activist who has admitted to being on a campaign to ‘expose’ crisis pregnancy centres, wrote a report entitled Exposing Crisis Pregnancy Centres in British Columbia,” explains Geoffrey Trotter, lawyer for the Centres. “Arthur alleged that crisis pregnancy centres employ unethical practices in their service to women and their communities.”
“The Centres, concerned that the misinformation would affect their reputation and community service, launched a defamation suit in hopes of requiring Arthur to withdraw her report and the harmful statements it contained,” shares Brian Norton, Executive Director of the Centres. “Strategically, we chose to challenge those of Arthur’s statements that were the most harmful and easy to prove false in court.”
“Unfortunately, the judge found that Arthur had used such vague language in that section of the report, that it wasn’t possible to prove that she specifically meant that our Centres employed these practices,” conveys Norton. “In a recent op-ed, Arthur concedes that the legal strategy she used in the defamation suit was to argue ‘that the report did not specifically say that the two plaintiff CPCs used any of the described tactics.’”
“We’re relieved that Arthur admitted that many of the report’s worst allegations are not aimed at our Centres. However, when people stumble across the report online, they are left with the impression that the misconduct that Arthur unfoundedly alleges is ‘common to many or most CPCs throughout North America’ must also be true of BC Centres in general and our Centres in particular,” continues Norton.
“Crisis pregnancy centres in BC offer a unique and valuable service to women and their communities,” shares Dr. Sherry Chan, a board member for the Centres. “Without government funding or tax payer dollars, private citizens fund these centres to provide pregnancy options information, as well as practical resources, from donated maternity and baby clothes, to accommodation assistance, and prenatal and childbirth classes. These volunteer-based centres seek to ensure that women and families in their communities are having their questions answered and their needs met during one of the most important periods in their lives.”
“To permit a report such as Arthur’s,” adds Lola French, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services, “with its conveniently vague but staggeringly broad allegations to taint the reputation of centres and volunteers across the province of BC, and beyond, is seriously hampering crisis pregnancy centres’ work in assisting women in need.”
When considering the uphill battle faced in an appeal, due to the unspecific attribution of Arthur’s allegations, and its associated costs, the Centres have decided to re-allocate their resources elsewhere, and are pondering a more detailed response to the serious allegations in the report at a later date.
In the meantime, the Centres will continue to serve women during their time of need.
“Notwithstanding what an activist with a stated political agenda against CPCs may allege,” says Norton, “we think the opinion that counts is the opinion of our clients. Here are just a few comments left on our ‘exit forms’ from our most recent crisis pregnancy clients:
✓ “Thanks for listening to me and giving me a way to solve my troubles.”
✓ “I have no words to say how thankful I am for all your love, help and support.”
✓ “It was really good to know there is someone to support me and listen to me.”
✓ “Wonderful people in your
[charity]. Words cannot describe all the appreciation
I feel so deep inside.”
“And here are sentiments left by our most recent clients who came seeking help for their post abortion grief issues:
✓ “I found a peaceful, supportive, safe and loving environment.”
✓ “I felt very loved and accepted.”
✓ “Great healing took place in unexpected ways.”
✓ “Very caring, loving. A safe place.”
“Women facing crisis pregnancies or experiencing problems following an abortion,” concludes Norton, “can have confidence that our Centres adhere to the highest standards of counselling ethics and provide accurate information and non-judgmental help.”
For more information about the case, please see the August 28th media release here.
For comment or to arrange an interview, contact Ginimi Chan, Administrator for the Centres:
Christian Advocacy Society of Greater Vancouver
7416 Edmonds Street
Burnaby, BC V3N 1A8