Saturday, December 10, 2016

Catholic church denies link to pregnancy centre accused of covert anti-abortion agenda

Image result for Women’s Life Centre in Albury, NSWThe Catholic church has denied any link to a New South Wales pregnancy centre accused of deceptively pushing an anti-abortion agenda to women, despite records showing the local diocese set up its website.

The Women’s Life Centre has operated for several years in Albury, NSW, marketing itself as a service that helps “any woman facing an unplanned pregnancy or worried that they may be pregnant”.

The centre is currently crowdfunding to buy an ultrasound device and says it offers pregnancy testing, counselling, resources on pregnancy and abortion, future planning and abortion grief counselling. 


The centre is staffed by pro-life volunteers and staff but its website makes no mention of its anti-abortion stance, nor does its shopfront, which advertises “free pregnancy help” and “free pregnancy testing”. 

The website domain name for the clinic is registered to the Wagga Wagga Catholic diocese, which covers Albury.

It also receives funding support from a café next door, named Esencia, which is owned by the church, according to the Australian Business Register and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission database.

A spokesman for the Wagga Wagga diocese said he did not believe there was any link between the church and the pregnancy centre. He said there may have been “technical assistance” to help the centre set up its website but nothing further.

Staff at the centre say they are openly pro-life and that there is no deception involved. 

A volunteer, Myra Hogan, told Guardian Australia that women who came to the centre for help would be immediately aware of its pro-life stance.

“From my point of view, yes 100%,” Hogan said. “I feel like we’re very upfront and honest ... That’s why I approached them, because that’s my own personal belief. I’m very pro-life.”
But senior Albury obstetrician and gynaecologist Pieter Mourik has accused the centre of covertly pushing an anti-abortion agenda. 

“This [women’s life centre] is a vile deception of vulnerable women who have an unplanned pregnancy,” he said. “No member of this clinic would ever agree with a woman who wants or medically needs a termination but will use any tactic to dissuade them every time.”

The US has seen thousands of “crisis pregnancy centres” set up across the country, which purport to offer free medical advice but actually attempt to discourage abortion and the use of contraceptives.

The US centres have been accused of lying to women, overstating the health impacts of abortions and using misleading films and images to frighten those seeking help.

In France, MPs last week voted to approve a plan to outlaw abortion information websites that masquerade as neutral, official services with freephone helpline numbers but promote anti-abortion propaganda and pressure women not to terminate pregnancies.

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