There have been some pretty interesting articles lately about various pregnancy crisis centres, the way they lure unsuspecting women into them and then misinform them and delay their attempts to access abortion services. I've already linked to that great article in the Toronto Star about the tactics used by these groups in a previous post. Now, check out this article (again in The Star) describing the Ontario Ministry of Health's reaction to suggestions these "clinics" should be regulated.
We (that's the Royal We) want to be appalled at the shell game going on here. It's easy to find a reason not to do something, much more difficult to figure a way to take responsibility and protect women from quacks. We (the Royal We again) think that if these people are going to pretend to be clinics, and the Ministry can't stop the pretending, they should be regulated the same way. Of course, they'd never make it through the regulatory process because... they're fakes! So then, can the Ministry make these fakes put some clarity around their purpose? If not, I can set myself up as "Jane's House of Healing." What's to stop any of us from setting out with the medicine wagon and selling snake oil? All I'm saying is, these fake clinics can't have it both ways and right now they do.
But the real failing of the Ministry of Health is not that they won't regulate the fake clinics or put some limits on them, but that they have created the situation where they exist in the first place. It is the failure to adequately stress and fund sexual health as part of the overall continuum of health that the Ministry must be taken to task about. Because they have failed to adequately educate, inform and provide accessible services, there is a serious gap in health care. This leaves a space for quacks like the Pregnancy Care Centres of the world to enter. Without the gap, there would be no women searching the yellow pages for "pregnancy counselling." Information would be readily available in every doctor's office (real doctors that is), every walk in clinic, every hospital, on ads in buses and in schools and there would be no shame or fear surrounding it. When sexual health is fully integrated into overall health, when shame and fear are no longer associated with this vital part of health care, the pregnancy crisis centres will evaporate into thin air. This is where the Ministry of Health needs to strengthen its efforts.
And this goes for Health Ministries in all the provinces, not just Ontario.