When Diana McNally scheduled an appointment for an abortion in Toronto’s east end in the early 2000s, she was just 15 years old. She hadn’t told her parents, and she went to the appointment alone.
When McNally arrived at the clinic’s address, she walked through the wrong door.
What she walked into was a crisis pregnancy centre, not the abortion clinic at which she’d made an appointment.
Crisis pregnancy centres are often run by Christian groups, and usually advertise themselves as somewhere you can get unbiased counselling, and basic necessities for babies like clothes and diapers. In 2016, the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada found that there were about 180 of these centres across the country
Pro-choice and women’s rights advocates have accused them of not being up front about their pro-life stance, spreading misinformation about abortion and using questionable tactics to convince women to not go through with it. And like in McNally’s case, sometimes they can be right beside an actual abortion clinic.
McNally says the day she walked into a pregnancy crisis centre, three or four people surrounded her, bombarding her with images of aborted fetuses and language like, “God wants you to keep your child.”
“I can’t even really recall a lot of the words, it was incredibly compelling,” she told Global News. “That feeling of terror and judgment was compelling me to make another choice.”
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McNally decided to keep the pregnancy.
“I didn’t call any other clinics after that,” she said. “I was scared of having another experience like that. And to me, what seemed less scary — I don’t know why — was having a child as a young person.”
On this episode of Wait, There’s More, host Tamara Khandaker speaks with McNally about the profound impact walking through the wrong door had on her life.