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Concerns raised about new pregnancy care centre set to open downtown

There have been concerns raised about the new pregnancy care centre opening in downtown Grande Prairie.

The Grande Prairie and Area Pregnancy Care Centre will be opening its doors next to Alberta Computers on 99th Street in the next few months. It will run as an affiliate of the Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services.

Grande Prairie resident Derian Young explains that she has been to a similar pregnancy centre in Vancouver. She felt it was not providing all of the options available for women during an unplanned pregnancy. She became concerned when she heard that a similar sounding facility was opening in the city.

“When you have a small town with nil for resources and a lot of unplanned pregnancies in younger women, they think they are going in there for a neutral unbiased referral or information.”

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The mission statement for the not-for-profit organization is, “The Pregnancy Care Centre of Grande Prairie seeks to be a safe and confidential place where individuals can find information, support, and hope related to pregnancy, sexuality, and abortion recovery in a loving, life- affirming atmosphere.”

An Edmonton woman has also voiced her concerns over the pregnancy centre being religion-based. Kathy Dawson, advocate for comprehensive and accurate sexual education, says her worry also revolves around the group’s willingness to provide information on abortions. She says most religious facilities that she has come across will not provide this type of information.

“I truly believe that we need neutral and complete information. I think if you were to ask any of the crisis pregnancy centres if they believe a woman should have an abortion at any time, that she should have the choice, they would probably say no.”

PCCGP Executive Director Kendra Madsen explains that they are interdenominational with Christian values but they are not going to discriminate against anyone who comes into their building. People who go to the centre may be asked about their spiritual background but she says this isn’t a place where people will have religious expectations put on them. Every volunteer or member of their board will have to be able to sign a statement of faith.

The Executive Director says all options will be presented as soon as someone walks through the door and asks for them. She adds that there is not a single answer to every situation because each woman is different.

“If she decides to carry to term or not, those are her options. She has the choice to make. We need to be really clear that women are presented with all of their options. It is not our right to make that decision for her.”

Madsen explains that one of the things included in the information they provide is a brochure which is titled “Abortion, Adopting, Parenting”. They will provide referrals and information on services around the community. This will include support when it comes to abortion as well.

“It’s not a medical clinic. We do want to be very clear that we don’t offer abortions there and we don’t refer for abortions. We can refer her back to her doctor or a medical professional that can review that with her.”

Madsen explains that if a woman needs a doctor, they can provide more details on how to get in contact with one. There will also be resources for adopting and for women who go through with parenting that may need items like clothing or resources for their baby.

Although there are concerns about the volunteers that work under the pregnancy centre’s roof, Madsen assures that the “peer advocates” will have training.

“Some of the people that may volunteer in the centre may have a professional background. However, our services won’t be a substitute for them seeking professional care. There is a comprehensive volunteer training program. It will have a minimum of 21 hours of volunteer training. They’ll be presented with a manual that’s been designed by the organization, CAPSS, and they provide lots of resources for similar centres. It has been designed and reviewed by medical professionals and social workers.”

She says books, DVDs and power point presentations will also be part of the process. There may be some janitorial or other type of volunteers around the building that won’t have this type of training but these people would not be seeing clients.

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