Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Sleezy tactics by Alberta Right To Life

Two weekends ago, Jessica and I took a trip to Red Rock Coulee, a "natural area" (note: not national/provincial park, though there was a park attached to the "natural area") in southern Alberta, about 30 minutes southwest of Medicine Hat. Our reason for travelling was twofold; we wanted to take a mini-vacation for the weekend and she wanted to get some insects for her collection from an ecosystem unlike that of Edmonton. Red Rock Coulee was situtated near some badlands so it seemed like an ideal place to go.

On the way from our hotel in Medicine Hat to Red Rock Coulee, we passed by a trailer displaying a big advertisment by the Alberta Right To Life Group, seen below:

If you can't read it, it says "Abortion kills BABIES and hurts women!!", underneath which is a phone number (1-800-665-0570). The opposite side of the trailer declared "1 in 3 babies is killed by abortion!!", complete with a really crappy cartoon of two babies and one 'ghost' baby.

Wondering where they got their statistics, and to contest how abortion hurts women and "kills babies", Jessica called the phone number, expecting to get a small-town Pro-Life group. She didn't.

The lady who answered was an operator for the Canadian Crisis Pregnancy Hotline, out of Winnipeg. After talking things over with her, we found out that the Crisis Pregnancy Hotline has nothing to do Alberta Right To Life (or any anti-abortion groups), and had no idea that the group was using their phone number on anti-abortion propaganda. The hotline takes a neutral stand on the issue, being neither Pro-Life nor Pro-Choice (although, if you think about it, taking no stance on the issue is basically akin to letting people make their own decisions on abortion, which is what being Pro-Choice is all about).

This makes me wonder why Alberta Right To Life would put the number on their advertisment. One reason, which I think is likely, is that the sign is there to stir up an anti-abortion fever in small town Alberta. Residents would call the number thinking they will have a chance to vent their disgust to like-minded people at Alberta Right To Life, only to get connected to the Pregnancy Crisis Hotline and proceed to give them a tongue lashing about how they are evil, sinful baby killers for giving out information and help to women considering abortions.

Of course, this is just speculation on my part. There's no way to know for sure short of contacting the group themselves. I took a look on their website for contact info but couldn't find one for the Medicine Hat branch (the ones most likely to be behind the sign). I also found that the group has another website, Abortionbreastcancer.ca, that claims abortion is the major cause of breast cancer in women, and that there is a big cover-up conspiracy by doctors to supress this info (more on this bullshit in a later blog post...)

But the sign leads me to think that the group is sleezy for three reasons. First, they dont say where they got any of their statistics. The statistics we found on abortion rates didn't match theirs at all. Without any reference to where the stats came from, how are people going to determine whether or not the group is truthful or lying through their teeth? Most people will take the numbers as truth without even thinking to look them up, but they wouldnt be able to do it even if they wanted to. Secondly, the use of the Pregnancy Crisis Hotline's number (and without stating what the number is for) is sleezy. I doubt doing so is illegal, since the number is freely available to the public, but who knows how many people have called it thinking they are going to get Alberta Right To Life and end up yelling at some poor soul in Winnepeg? And third, the sign spreads blatent lies about abortion (how is it "killing babies" or "hurting women"? Again, no references). I don't know how a group goes about putting up signs like that. I dont think it's legal if it's on public ground (because the group has an obvious religous impetus). Perhaps it's private land? I'm not familiar enough with the Medicine Hat area to know. I'll keep searching for a contact for the Medicine Hat branch so I an question them about it...

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