VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) – A Christian Advocacy Society and a Crisis Pregnancy Centre that operate out of the same address claim in court that a TV station defamed them in a broadcast that claimed they provide inaccurate medical information about abortions.
The Christian Advocacy Society of Greater Vancouver and the Crisis Pregnancy Centre sued Bell Media aka CTV in British Columbia Supreme Court.
They claim the network defamed them after sending an undercover reporter to a counseling session with a hidden camera.
The reporter signed a client services form stating that she was experiencing a crisis pregnancy though the purpose of her visit was to gather footage for CTV’s investigation, the complaint states.
The plaintiffs claim that the information they provided the reporter was all true, and that CTV violated its own policies during the investigation.
“The use of concealed recording equipment to record the undercover footage was contrary to CTV policy, which prohibits their use except where the material obtained serves an important editorial purpose and cannot be obtained by other means,” the complaint states. “The plaintiffs were at all times co-operative with CTV’s investigation, and any relevant information could have been obtained from the plaintiffs by other means.”
The investigation focused on two crisis centers, which CTV falsely linked as “affiliated,” the complaint states. The plaintiffs claim they have a hand in operating just one of the centers in Vancouver at the heart of the investigation, but the broadcast misled viewers by linking that center with another one in Surrey, B.C., which allegedly provided false medical information to women.
The plaintiffs claim the broadcasts and online articles falsely stated that the undercover reporter heard from both centers that abortions are linked to breast cancer, depression and that fetal body parts can be left in the womb. And, they say, CTV defamed the plaintiffs by reporting that counselors spent inordinate amounts of time discussing the risks of abortions.
“A ‘long time’ was spent ‘discussing the risks’ of abortion at the Vancouver Centre only because the Undercover Reporter directed the conversation to cover these topics by refusing to share personal details and information regarding her circumstances, and insisting on discussing only the option of abortion, and specifically its medical risks,” the complaint states.
During the counseling session, plaintiffs’ representative simply responded to questions and told the undercover reporter to consult a doctor if she wanted more details about abortion risks, the plaintiffs say.
Since the broadcasts and articles appeared, the plaintiffs say their relationships with clients and donors have been damaged to the point that “community partners including schools have canceled plaintiffs’ events.”
The plaintiffs seek damages for defamation, breach of contract and misrepresentation, and retractions and corrections.
They are represented by Geoffrey Trotter with Gudmundseth Mickelson.