Pregnancy Centres, Dammit Janet and How I Ended Up In The Middle

So this is interesting.

The Pregnancy Centre in Sarnia applied for a grant from Ontario Trillium Foundation to open a second centre in Petrolia (a nearby town). The pregnancy centre here is well supported by the church population of this city with yearly galas and fundraisers. I’ve known the families and staff of the centre since I was a child and have done a few jobs for them here or there over the last eight years. One of these jobs is a video we shot for them in 2007. Please don’t judge me based on the quality of that video. It was a long time ago!

So yesterday I was told that the pregnancy centre was losing the second half of their funding from Ontario Trillium Foundation. I read the statement on the centre’s website and then hunted down the source of how this all came to be. I didn’t even know they had a grant until yesterday let alone it getting rescinded.

Let me just be upfront, in that I really don’t have a ‘Christian’ view of these centres, abortion and all the politics that gets wrapped up into that struggle. I understand that the centre’s are Christian (which they’ve never seem to hide at all), so they come loaded with bias and a specific worldview (what doesn’t?). I also understand that these kinds of places probably shouldn’t be funded by public funds – which they generally are not. So it’s not like I’m coming into this situation defending the centre and whining on about morality and freedom (like these debates so often do). That said, I know a few women who have been seriously encouraged and loved by this specific centre and their staff. In a society void of compassion and relationship, this centre at least has been a great support to women and men when faced with tough circumstances.

I find out there is this blogger on this website called Dammit Janet who is somewhat responsible for this coming out into the public eye. A tweet to the Ontario Trillium Foundation caused an investigation which eventually resulted in the funding being rescinded. The centre has a statement about it here. So it was interesting to see the cause of how this all came into the light. One of the authors of this blog is a woman named Fern Hill who has a bone to pick with the “right wing nutz” specifically around abortion, women’s rights and reproductive justice. Hell, so do I! Nothing worse than corrupt and biased science to promote an ideology that hurts women. I actually read her blog posts being a bit impressed at their knowledge on the issues and their attempts to reveal truth where they see it. I also love a good amount of sarcasm and anger.

So far in this story I’m not even irritated (hint: there is a point I get irritated). I’m just watching it unfold. I find on this Dammit Janet site, this post. For those of you that don’t want to go read it (I suggest you do), it is an accusation that the Sarnia pregnancy centre was intentionally hiding what would be considered illegal medial equipment. She inquires a “professional pal” who is certain that the videographer was directed to make selective camera angle to hide something that would reveal that they were doing illegal medical procedures on their site. I probably would have skimmed over this if it wasn’t for the fact that I shot this video. I certainly wasn’t advised to keep anything out of the shot. This is because it is not a medical chair, it was a baby bouncy chair.

What you start to pick up very quickly is that Fern Hill (or maybe all the authors on this blog) are willing to very quickly stoop to the level of bias and corruption when it comes to promoting their own ideology. I left some comments in the same “tone” as her entire blog is lathered in, but quickly I was called patronizing and reduced to a “Xtian pastor” and she stopped publishing my comments. You can read my comments that were published here.

People are so fascinating when they are convinced of someone else’s wrongdoing and attempts at exposing it that they are completely blinded by their own infallibility and make all the same mistakes. The cognitive dissonance here could be a case study. She admits in the comment section that she was “wrong about the chair” but then continues to spew generalizations that all these clinics are evil and manipulating and only exist to dissuade women from legal medical service. Then of course stops posting my comments, labels me as a pastor and said I was surprised she was done with me (I literally said I was not surprised). My comment that wasn’t posted was simply:

I’m not surprised you’re done. You fundamentalist left wingers have always fought bull shit with your own equal amounts. If you are ever open to critically engaging both sides of an issue fairly, look me up, for a xtian pastor you’d be surprised how much we’d agree.

That is the beauty of blogs though. You can censor and shape the image of someone, categorize them with the rest of the ‘nutz’ and continue on your merry way. Just label me a religious zealot, don’t use my name, keep calling me a xtian pastor and then your readers will have a properly formed view of my criticisms and me that further support your ideology. It’s a classic move of right wing fundamentalists.

Dammit Janet, get your shit together. Don’t stoop to the level of manipulative maneuvers like the people you are opposing do. Don’t reduce all people to your narrow minded ideologies. Expose people that are actually doing harm. Don’t assume all people under a certain umbrella are as evil as the bad examples Don’t assume everyone is doing harm and is evil inside these centres. There are clearly pregnancy centres that are horrible places with horrible values and they need to be exposed and stopped. Not all are the same, but you are blinded by your ideology and hate for the bad apples that you throw everyone else under the same bus. You aren’t helping these places get better by having funding removed, in fact you are more likely to start a religious war of sorts that will only result in more funding going their way. Help them see the truth rather than just attack them. You have a lot to offer on these kinds of issues. Maybe they will allow you to come and give a workshop to their staff about some of your research? Maybe you can meet them and shake their hands and you can each commend each other for their effort in loving people and teach each other how to do that better? Then maybe they can teach you something about their services. Maybe you will find out that not all are evil and there is some benefit to what they do and maybe you could learn a thing or two.  I do think both Dammit Janet and this centre at least care deeply about women, reproductive justice and have invested a lot of time into seeing people being loved.  I hope that neither side demonizes the other so you both can get back to the work of support and exposing truth wherever you see it.

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