Monday, November 16, 2009

Reposting of commentary on the "Pro-Life conference 08" with comment by Rabble

This is the post I made some time ago.
Amanda Phillips of the Backporch would like to respond the the comment by Rabble.
Thanks to both Rabble and Amanda.

PS: Amanda has now left a clarifying comment in the comment section.
PS: Please, read the entire "Dear Rabble" series of posts for further context, clarification and items to respond to. Thanks.

On Saturday, I attended the Alberta Pro-life conference.

For me the highlight was a talk by Amanda, who co-ordinates the Back Porch project next to the Morgenthaler abortion clinic. What a courageous, warm and engaged young woman!

The Back Porch is a house with an office that welcomes people who want to speak to someone before they have their abortion. An attempt is made to refer for further counselling. Sadly, it is generally found that people have not had any counselling. They make their abortion appointment on line and then make their way to the clinic -- and that is it. Amanda was outraged at the amount of "choice" people have. She prefers to call pro-life efforts "pro-choice" as there are actually choices other than abortion offered.

In the same vein another speaker mentioned that when she was at the doctor for a pregnancy test and it turned out positive, the first words out of the doctor's mouth were: "We can take care of that." This lady was married and not in a crisis pregnancy situation, and yet this was what she had to hear. During the course of the pregnancy she was offered an amniocentesis eight times!

Such is the state of counselling and advice giving these days.

This is the comment I received from Rabble, yesterday.

Rabble has left a new comment on your post "Alberta Pro-Life Conference, May 2, 08":

I've heard of the Back Porch.
It's not a place that "welcomes people who want to speak to someone before they have their abortion". It's a thinly-veiled Anti-choice bullshit-machine.
You do know they feed the women in there right. Hot chocolate and biscuits all around. I bet you never wondered why. I think you might want to know that women cannot eat or drink for 6 hours before their abortion (just like any other surgery that involves a painkiller). This seeming act of compassion has made it so women who live out of town (since Options is the northernmost clinic in Canada) can't have access to a safe, legal procedure.
And as to your sob-story about counseling? Also bullshit.
You see, there are counselors inside the clinic. I know this will boggle your mind, but there are social workers, trained in counseling (which the people in the Back Porch are not) who make sure the patients are making the decision freely. They work to alleviate any concerns the patient may have (which Porchers don't do) and they do not push anything on the woman (which is vastly different from the Porchers).
So no, it's not "They make their abortion appointment on line and then make their way to the clinic -- and that is it". There's so much more to it than you will ever know. The woman inside the clinic is constantly counseled, before, during and after. In fact, if she is on the operation table, speculum inside her and the anesthetic running and suddenly decided she's not sure the procedure stops. Right there.
And lastly, you do know amniocentesis is a test to determine the genetics of a baby, right? Like to see if the baby has spinabifida. Or a post-natal-fatal version of Trisomy.
I know this will probably never get put up because you've chosen to censor your comments but that's cool, if you could handle truth, you'd look at facts.


Amanda said...

Dear Rabble,

I’m so sorry you’ve heard such negative things about the Back Porch ministry that has led you to believe that it is a “thinly-veiled anti-choice bullshit-machine”. It seems to me that your source is slightly confused about what we do, so let me try to clear things up for everyone. Brigitte is right. We do try to "welcome people who want to speak to someone before they have their abortion". We offer information on abortion, the procedure, possible risks and complications, as well as parenting & adoption information. We offer a listening ear to those who may have not had anyone to listen to them. Those who come into the Back Porch are free to come in and free to leave. We do not keep them here against their will. Our hope is that they will take the information and maybe reconsider. Based on what these women tell us, most of them have not gone for any counseling prior to making an abortion appointment. Many (and note, I do not say all) women make decisions based on emotions at the time, and not always on facts. Most people who agree when I say basing decisions on emotions isn’t always wise because emotions come and go, whereas facts remain the same.

It is true that we offer women and men cookies and coffee, etc. and they can choose to eat them or not. Many of them choose not to, which is fine with us. They are well aware of the fact that they cannot eat or drink 6 hours before their procedure, and we do not force them to eat or drink. They can make that choice, and they do. Some of the people we speak to do choose to stay and speak with us for longer periods of time, and offering refreshments is our way of being hospitable to them.

Sometimes we get the opportunity to speak to women who have had previous experiences with abortion at this clinic. These women have told us that there is very little counseling before the procedure. Those we have spoken to have essentially told us that the counseling is basically, “Do you want an abortion or not?” This is what clients of Woman’s Health Options have told us after they had an abortion with them. I did not make this up. I have also spoken to many women who said that upon hearing that they are in an unplanned pregnancy, their doctor refers them for an abortion. Not to a pregnancy counselor.

Our volunteers are not social workers. I agree, yet they do have training to speak with clients facing an abortion and many have had unplanned pregnancies and have had abortions, or they became single parents, they placed for adoption or they adopted. Our volunteers are trained to do speak and act in the most kind and compassionate way. We realize and understand that abortion is a very touchy subject, and that any woman facing a crisis or unplanned pregnancy is in a very difficult situation. We do not judge her, instead we try to help her learn the facts and help her make a choice she can live with. Abortion doesn’t erase the fact that she was pregnant and had a child, and we want her to be aware of all the facts before she makes a choice.

As I said above, no one is forced to stay at the Back Porch, and many do leave and go ahead with their abortion. But for those who change their minds and wish to speak with a pregnancy counselor, or look at adoption options, or who’d like to parent, or at least take some time to think more about their decision…well we’re here for them too. We’re also here for those who are post-abortive and need someone to speak with afterwards. I have spoken to many post abortive women; some who regret their abortion and some who don’t. We are very pro-woman and are here to support women in the best way we can.

I hope this clears things up a bit.


The Back Porch

Brigitte said...

About the amniocentesis.

A good friend of mine's daughter is currently pregnant with the family's first grandchild. For some reason, some blood test worried someone. She had to come to Edmonton for further tests, ultrasound, etc. There seems to be a 1 in 200 or 1 in 600 chance (the number keeps changing) that there might be Down's or something. Amniocentesis and abortion have been mentioned to this poor, young woman, innumerable times. What a joy. Oh, here, you're first baby but maybe you want an abortion. ? Are you sure, now, you don't want an abortion? This is unfathomable to me.

On the other hand, my dog, Molly had to be put down the other day. She had barely any red blood cells left, she was very lethargic, she stopped walking and looked paralyzed at times, she quit eating. Well! For the dog we might: 1. give her a blood transfusion, so she can make it through 2. a spinal tap, so she can be diagnosed and see 3. a specialist.

This is all wrong, IMHO.

The point is that the counseling for amniocentesis seems to be somewhat out of control. I wonder if it has to do with our litigious society. Does the medical professional feel compelled to worry every young couple just so no one can say afterward you did not tell them. So you told them, that they might have an abortion and now no one can blame you. ???

Rabble said...

Hi Amanda,
I spent a bit of time researching, looking around and finding out about the back porch. I looked at your website, I read a few articles and I’ve read your comment.

My mind remains unchanged. Your organization is nothing more than anti-choice lies with a thin veneer of compassion.

You “offer information on abortion, the procedure, possible risks and complications, as well as parenting & adoption information”. But I don’t see anywhere on your website any links to Health Canada, Capital Health or any sites that would have this accurate information. Furthermore you fail to mention the risks associated with giving birth. If you were truly interested in letting women know all their options and knowing the risks you would not be afraid to link to places like Health Canada where women could get unbiased information on their options and the risks thereof.

I would like to use your insistence on “informed consent” to speak to the coffee and cookies you offer. The women and men may be able to choose whether or not they eat, but are you sure these women are fully aware of the consequences of eating these cookies? You see, just as you worry that the decision to have an abortion is made “based on emotions at the time, and not always on facts” I worry that these women (having not eaten for a while) will make the decision to eat the cookies based on being hungry, not on the fact that they may not be able to have their surgery. I somehow doubt that you inform the women of this fact.

I have also heard that your clinic intentionally deceives women who are lost. If they mistake your clinic for Women’s Health Options you will say they aren’t that clinic. But if they ask for directions you won’t give them. If this is true I fear for the women who enter your center, you are so set on changing their minds that you refuse to give them the simple directions of “across the street”

As for the women you’ve spoken to, I too have spoken to women. In fact, I have had the privilege to speak with one of the social workers at Woman’s Health Options. She has assured me that the counseling is as long and intense as it needs to be. Many women who have problems with counselors at clinics have such problems because they expect these counselors to be their moral compass. This is not the job of counselors. If a woman is not having issues with her decision then the counseling will be very brief. The counselors are there to ensure informed consent and deal with any issues the woman might be having. If the woman is assured of her choice it is not the counselors’ job to try and talk her out of it.

Your volunteers are not social workers, they do not have certification nor do they have the education that social workers do. No amount of your training is going to turn them into certified counselors. I have a friend who works at a bakery; they give him on-site training to make different styles of coffee. This does not make him a chef. This is why (I’m guessing) those doctors referred women to health clinics (which are also sometimes abortion clinics) instead of pregnancy counselors. Places like Birthright, Pregnancy Care Center and The Back Porch do not have qualified counselors and do not refer women to the proper health services.

Rabble said...

I read an article online from VUE Weekly about your clinic and it mentioned pamphlets about post-abortion syndrome. It included a quote from you saying “Not all women experience [post-abortion syndrome] but a good majority do, and the symptoms can range from various things like guilt to severe depression to suicide”. Now, I’ve done my research and PAS is a very interesting condition; especially since it’s been disproven. The American Psychological Association in 1988 proved there is no such condition. PAS is not in the DSM; and study after study has proven that at best 1% of women experience a negative change in emotions following an abortion.

I also took a look at your website and I noticed a little flaw. You don’t link to external sources. There’s nothing but internal links under your ‘resources’ heading. You have no way of getting to Health Canada from your site and don’t offer women any way of contacting anyone except your operation.

You say that you are “pro-woman” but you are aligning yourself with places that lie to women and pressure them into decisions they don’t want. You are coercing women into a choice that is the number one cause of disease burden in women aged 15-44. You are aligning yourself with a movement that kills women.
P.S. Bridgette:
Again, you are confusing amniocentesis with abortion. The amniocentesis test would determine for sure if there was a problem with your friend’s child. All pregnancies carry a risk, not only of Downs, but of things like spinabifida (where the fetus’ spinal cord never fully closes) certain trisomy disorders that would result in death shortly after birth and Tay Sachs. The reason people are trying to get her to have these tests is so they can find out if there is something wrong.
As for your dog, that’s because veterinarians are paid more if you get more intense procedures. There is no incentive for doctors to offer women abortions, in fact, there’s more money in it for them if she gives birth.

Brigitte said...

Thanks Rabble, but I think I had that quite clear and I thought that you maybe would see the irony in how many human and animal patients get treated inappropriately. Perhaps, you could see how women object to having an amniocentesis and/or abortion offered to them so many times over.

Bror Erickson said...

Your Funny Rabble,
you think the back porch should inform these women of the complications of eating a cookie, but not on the emotional and health complications of an abortion. You may deny the PAS if you want, but as a pastor, I've run into way too many women who realized they were rushed into an abortion, pushed into it by an abusive boyfriend, or husband at times, and terminated a life, murdered their own child, and they live with extreme guilt. They see other women shopping with their daughters, or having lunch with their sons, and realize that they not only murdered their own child, but deprived themselves of much joy in life. Do your abortion "health" clinics ever tell the women about that? Do they inform them of that? So these women eat a cookie and have another day to think about the whole thing. Is that such a bad thing? They couldn't go in the next day? Your worse than a used car salesman if you think these women shouldn't have another day or two to think about this irreparable decision they are about to make. I also hardly think that it would be proper for a woman to go into an abortion clinic and have an abortion an hour after talking to the doctor for the first time. I'm sure if they were going to have the surgery that day, they are well enough informed that they shouldn't eat a cookie. You have an irrational mind to think that the back porch is pulling some mean trick here.
And if someone told you they were going to murder someone, do you think you would have the moral obligation to tell them where that someone was?

Amanda said...

Hi Rabble,
I’m pleased that you would do so much research on our small ministry, and that there is that amount of material available for you to do your research on us. Education is key in making a decision on anything. It is unfortunate that your mind remains unchanged, but like anything we do at the Back Porch, we let the individual remain free to make their own personal choice; no judgment.

It is true that we do not have any external links to the Health Canada website. In fact we have no external links period; pro-life, pro-choice, Health Canada etc. Generally people who have found our website are quite capable of searching the more publicly known website of Health Canada if they doubt our information or are just looking for more information. They come to our website because they need real pregnancy help.
We don’t usually cover the risks associated with giving birth because it’s not generally an issue for women in an unplanned pregnancy facing an abortion. We deal with their most immediate needs at hand and then if the concern turns from abortion to risks of child birth, then we can discuss that with her as well. It is not mentioned on our website because most women we speak to are more concerned that this baby is coming at the “wrong time”, it’s “inconvenient” or they have financial concerns. Those concerns cover the majority of our clients and so we focus on addressing those concerns.

You do make a good point about the cookies that is very interesting. The difference though, is that we don’t assume women are unaware of their decision to eat a cookie or not. Most of them say no to that cookie because they are aware of what the consequences of that choice would be (not having the surgery that day). Whereas with abortion, we ask them if they know what happens during a procedure. Most of them say no. That causes some great concern for me especially because we are dealing with a woman’s body, a blind surgical procedure and her right to be fully informed.

Because you have mentioned this a couple times, I would like to clarify that we are not a clinic, but a simple ministry. We do not even call ourselves a pregnancy counseling centre, and we do not call our volunteers pregnancy counselors. It’s true. If women or men come into the Back Porch and think we are the Woman’s Health Options clinic, we will not lie to them and say that we are, just so that we can have the opportunity to present our information. And yes, if they do ask for directions to the clinic we will not point it out. I will say that they are close to the clinic, that they are in the area, but that we cannot point the clinic out to them. Most women respect our right to do this, and understand our reasons as well. We have a policy not to refer or direct for abortions. Do we not have a right to have that policy, especially if we believe that abortion hurts women and babies? If we believe that abortion causes harm, and we point out the clinic to these women, then we are doing something that we believe intentionally hurts women and babies. If you believe something is wrong and will hurt someone will you refer them to that place? By pointing out the clinic, it also makes us look like liars for saying one thing and yet doing another. No, we are consistent with our message. Clients of the Woman’s Health Option clinic are quite capable of finding the clinic on their own even without direction from us.


Amanda said...


I’m glad you too have spoken to women. But it appears that the women we have spoken to are different. It appears you have spoken to the counselors/staff of the clinic whereas I have spoken to the clients directly. Perhaps you have as well, but that is not what you have stated. It is possible that the social workers at the Woman’s Health Options clinic provide counseling “as long and intense as it needs to be”, but that is not what the clients of Woman’s Health Options have told us when some of them come here after their abortion. It is true; we don’t expect the clinic to be a moral compass to women reconsidering their decision. “If the woman is assured of her choice it is not the counselors’ job to try and talk her out of it.” I ask women if they have spoken to a pregnancy counselor, I don’t care if it was Planned Parenthood, a psychologist, a school nurse or counselor, a priest, rabbi, or pastor, or a pregnancy counselor. I ask them if they have had outside, objective counseling. The majority answer, “No.” So many of these women are expecting some sort of “Options” counseling when they go into the clinic (especially because the business name states this) and are disappointed when they get none.

Again, I agree with you. We are not social workers OR counselors and we have never claimed that we are. We do not provide training to turn people into certified counselors, but to enable them to provide accurate information in a compassionate and non-judgmental environment. If you’d like to compare us to baristas as opposed to chefs, then by all means. We are the ones who provide the information and the service to the clients, such as barista provides the coffee & cookies to their customers. We are not the ones who do the research and publish the information, much like the chef who is behind the scenes yet provides the barista what he/she needs to serve the customers with. Because a barista is not a chef, does that mean he/she cannot still adequately provide customers what they need or came for? No. Just because you’re not a chef, doesn’t mean you can’t serve the cookies.


Amanda said...


I’m glad you were able to read the article published by VUE Weekly. I’ve done my research on PAS as well and am sticking to my claim. There are indeed published studies indicating that post-traumatic stress disorder can and does appear in some women after their abortions (Check out Dr. David Reardon or Dr. Joel Brind). And I can probably guarantee you that I have spoken to quite a few more post-abortive women than you have. It’s good to know that the American Psychological Association “disproved” this condition in 1988…21 years later…more evidence has been collected. Even if “at best only 1% of women experience negative change in emotions following an abortion” that 1% in Canada equates to about approximately 1000 women. Do you believe that those women should not know that there is a chance (however slight it may or may not be) that they could be one of these 1000 women after their abortion? Do they not have a right to be informed of this information no matter how minor this may seem to you? No. I disagree. Women have the right to be fully informed on everything in regards to abortion no matter how miniscule the pro-abortion advocates believe this detail might be. I have personally spoken to many women and men who experience grief over their past abortion experience. My best friend has had 3 abortions. She experiences grief and pain from them everyday of her life. She is now even starting to relive those abortions which has caused her to be rendered into tears of pain and regret. You tell her that her pain does not exist. For two years, a woman has been coming to see me off and on to cry about her pain of abortion. She says she has no one else to talk to about it. Tell her she is wrong and there is no such thing as post abortion grief. What about my friend who is over 50 years old and remembers in detail how she was pressured into abortion by her grandmother when she was 17. She can’t help thinking (daily) of the the third child she’d have right now. What about the 40 year old woman I spoke to the other day who said she wonders what it would be like to have that 20 year old son or daughter she aborted years ago. She came in to talk to me about that pain. These are just the psychological and emotional feelings of women who’ve experienced abortions. I have not even touched on physical risks and complications (but I could tell you about ambulances at the clinic or women with scared uteruses or cervixes from abortions, rendering them infertile). I could go on and on about this, but I think you get the point.

I am pro-woman. I am pro-choice. I am pro-informed consent for women’s health information in regards to abortion. I am pro-options. If you choose to be otherwise, than that’s fine. I leave that choice in your hands.


The Back Porch

Rabble said...

Please Forgive the delay, school comes first.
There is my reply to all of you, feel free to comment there.