Reading websites for abortion clinics is not the most fun you’ll have on a Friday night. It is, however, useful in learning what matters to these for-profit clinics, and seeing how they market to women facing an incredibly difficult situation. It is especially important because pregnancy care centers are under attack, while abortion clinics claim to be the pro-woman voice at the table.
While each clinic has its own website and slight variations on the FAQs, a brief perusal of the Morgentaler clinic website turns up enough talking points for several articles. Mentioning only a few will give a clear picture of whose best interests the clinic really has in mind.
It is repeatedly mentioned that the actual abortion procedure takes only 5-10 minutes, while the appointment can be expected to take 2-3 hours. “Counselling, ultrasound and a doctor’s exam are usually done in the same visit as your abortion, so you’ll only need to come to our clinic once.” How accommodating, you might think. But if your counselling, ultrasound and doctor’s exam are to be done prior to prepping for and carrying out your procedure, plus we add the 30+ minutes of recovery time before they send you on your way with an empty uterus and still-dilated cervix, how thorough do you think those steps are?
At an abortion clinic, the counselling is geared to one end goal: abortion. You’re here now, we don’t want to re-book you, let’s move this along.
The website goes on to say, “It’s important for you to have reliable and accurate information.” Agreed. Yet the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ page assures potential clients that there is “no research or statistical data to support the belief that having more than one abortion will damage or affect fertility.” No mention is made of the increased risk of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, potential scarring from the procedure, or other side effects that could indeed affect future fertility. Certainly, these complications are rare, but reliable and accurate information means giving the whole truth, not the best version of the truth.
Statistics Canada is then referenced on the website with the assurance that fewer than 1% of abortions results in any complication – this is based on data from 1995. Data from 2015 indicate over 2% of abortions have complications. This may not seem like a huge difference, but using outdated data from more than 20 years ago is a sure sign you do not care all that much what the facts are.
Under the “About Us” section of the website is the slogan, “Every mother a willing mother. Every child a wanted child.” There is clearly an understanding here that they are dealing daily with mothers and children, yet there is a callous lack of care for those lives. Instead, there is flippant, condescending advice such as that given for recovery: “Like most women, you’ll probably feel much better after a light meal.” This brings to mind images of a woman crying in a bucket of ice cream after a bad breakup, as if that will make her feel better.
The general trivializing of the abortion experience contrasts starkly with legal efforts to ensure conflicting opinions are kept at a distance. The Ottawa Morgentaler Clinic recently successfully pushed the Ontario government to enact “bubble zone” legislation so that those who oppose abortion will be banned from expressing that view too close to the clinic.
There is a clear recognition, if a failure to admit, that abortion is more than a quick procedure to have done on your day off, like seeing the dentist. (The repeated referral to the suction tool for emptying the uterus as “much like a dental suction hose” reinforces this feeling of casual flippancy.)
Abortion clinics do not care for women. Rather, the only service they offer is abortion. The questions and answers they provide focus solely on what abortion feels like, what it will cost, how long it will take, what you should wear, and what comfort food to eat after your baby has been removed from your uterus.
Pregnancy care centres, on the other hand, have websites that declare their compassion, concern, and genuine care for women. Is it any wonder Google results continue to favour these places, where close to 99% of clients rank themselves as very satisfied with their experience?
A quick scan of an abortion clinic’s website shows a utilitarian ethic focused on efficiency and lack of emotionality. Pregnancy care centers give time, resources, and space for emotion. Only one of these organizations can really be called pro-woman.