ARPA Note: Thanks to the hundreds of ARPA supporters who voiced their concerns about this through the postcard campaign!
By Patrick B. Craine, VICTORIA, B.C., February 3, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – British Columbia pro-life researcher Ted Gerk appeared before a government committee today to call on the government to allow access to information relating to abortions performed in the province.
The Kelowna native, presenting to the Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, called for the repeal of Bill 21, an amendment to the province’s Freedom of Information Act that was enacted in 2001 by the NDP government to specifically exclude access to abortion information.
As Gerk told the committee, the bill “created the amazing dilemma that I can know that my local hospital is providing abortion services, but I’m not allowed to know how many.” In fact, as he pointed out, the abortion figures put out by Statistics Canada no longer include the number from B.C., and simply includes the note that the B.C. figure is “too unreliable to be published.”
Gerk charged that the amendment was enacted during a period when government was “closely aligning themselves with political activists that lobby them on a regular basis,” but “then ensuring that information detailing that lobbying is never made public.” The amendment, suggested Gerk, was a way of covering up that information.
Prior to the passage of the amendment, information obtained through Freedom of Information, “provided embarrassment after embarrassment directed toward the government and the bureaucracy,” he added.
Through freedom of information requests, said Gerk, he and fellow researchers were able to learn details about a special government committee called The Abortion Services Working Group, for example. They discovered that through this committee the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Attorney General were meeting with abortion-activist groups, and they also learned that freedom of information was a topic of discussion at these meetings.
He mentioned, further, the discovery in the early 1990s that the B.C. Attorney General had filed a false affidavit when he swore that he had not participated in a secret strategy meeting with abortion proponents. In 1996, said Gerk, he and others discovered that the College of Physicians and Surgeons “didn’t even follow their own rules when it came to the accreditation of one of Vancouver’s abortion clinics.”
As the independent news source, “The Report,” detailed in 2001, Gerk was also able to discover, while investigating the death of a woman following an abortion at Vancouver General Hospital, that 15 babies had survived abortion between 1995 and 1998, but then died later.
The amendment, Gerk concluded, “was put there, plainly and simply, because the government was tired of having to defend their abortion policies and activism. They were meeting with activists on one side of a public policy issue, all the while refusing to meet with those with a differing opinion.”
“I didn’t think it was too much to ask that we be allowed, in a democratic country, to monitor abortion advocacy being undertaken by our government and the bureaucracy,” Gerk observed. “I mean, the same pro-choice groups that secretly met with government have called for a ban on any discussion about abortion and the formation of any pro-life groups, on university campuses!”
“The public and media are surprised, now all these years later, at the travesty that FOI has become in BC,” Gerk stated. “I would submit that many of them failed to recognize that when you allow government to make any topic off limits, make it secret, you have in fact sown the seeds of secrecy … and how can you complain when it naturally expands to other areas?”
Gerk and John Hof, the president of Campaign Life Coalition B.C., also called on the Acting B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner, Paul Fraser, today to address this problem of abortion censorship. They presented him with 2,500 postcards signed by fellow British Columbians.
See the Stop Abortion Censorship blog, set up to expose this issue in B.C.
Mr. Paul Fraser, QC
Office of Information and Privacy
Commissioner for British Columbia
PO Box 9038, Stn. Prov. Govt.
Victoria, BC V8W 9A4
Phone: (250) 387-5629
E-mail: [email protected]