A woman, apparently involved in a pro-life group in Ontario, fraudulently used another student's ID and name to investigate how the University Health Clinic counsels unplanned pregnancies.
Dr. Jann Rogers, the walk-in physician who counseled the woman Mon., Jan. 26, called the woman's actions "deceitful and underhanded." The woman, along with a male who posed as the father of the child, said a home pregnancy test was positive. Dr. Rogers said she would like to repeat the test at the clinic in case it was a false positive, however, the woman was not willing to do so.
The doctor offered a variety of options, including abortion, parenting and adoption.
"She seemed to want some indication from me what she should do," explained Dr. Rogers. "I was careful to explain to her I didn't have an opinion on what she should do. There are people, for whatever moral, religious or ethical reason, who would never choose to terminate a pregnancy and I totally respected that. I said there are some people, for whatever their life circumstances, who would choose to terminate a pregnancy and I said I respected that."
Dr. Rogers counseled the woman that she should decide based on what is best for her.
"Ultimately, statistically in Canada, she's by far and away the one most likely to raise the child," said Dr. Rogers.
The doctor felt the questions were "interview-like." The woman asked questions if an abortion hurt or if abortions makes it difficult to carry a child to full term.
"[She asked] 'is it true having an abortion would made it difficult to carry a child, if you wanted to have a pregnancy later on?'" said Dr. Rogers. "I told her there is no medical evidence about having one uncomplicated abortion, there is no single risk of having a miscarriage or being unable to carry a pregnancy to term in a future pregnancy."
Dr. Rogers felt the woman was still undecided and referred her to a pre-pregnancy counselor. She commented to another doctor after the session it was unusual the woman could not produce a sample and she felt they may be scamming her.
On Tue., Jan. 27, another female student walked into the clinic and said someone had come to the clinic and used her name and ID number without her consent and she wanted the appointment removed from her chart.
"One of the other doctors heard this and took this student into a room," said Dr. Rogers, adding the doctor received the same story. "On further questioning she admitted she did know who this person was. She didn't want to give the name of this person who, I believe, is from Ontario and was invited to come out here by the U of C pro-life group that runs out of the campus."
The University of Calgary legal counsel is still investigating the situation to determine whether a fraud has been committed.
"We are not yet aware of facts and we can't comment," said University of Calgary Assistant General Counsel Charlene Anderson.
According to Alberta Pro-Life, these covert operations are common to pro-life and pro-choice movements but this is the first time the group's executive director has seen it appear in Alberta.
"There was a documentary on a pro-choice group, where women wanted info and did an expose on pregnancy crisis centres," said Alberta Pro-Life Executive Director Patti Nixon, who believes such actions break down relationships between groups and organizations. "The U.S. Life Dynamic Institute [a pro-life group] did a covert operation. They sent underage girls to Planned Parenthood. It exposed Planned Parenthood because they would do underage abortions and because they were under 14. They didn't report statutory rape."
Dr. Rogers does not see the campus pro-life group in a bad light but rather the individual.
"I can't believe how deceitful, underhanded, sneaky, illegal and fraudulent--it was just low," said Dr. Rogers, adding she had many patients in the waiting room. "I think she was coming so she could get information if our clinic was pushing abortions or blatantly pressuring students."
Students' Union President Jayna Gilchrist is concerned that the practitioner's time was abused when others were waiting to see the doctor.
"It's extremely unfortunate an individual's information was manipulated to further someone else's cause," said Gilchrist. "I also believe all individuals should be up front and honourable with regards to medical circumstances."
The University of Calgary Campus Pro-Life could not be reached for comment.
Therapeutic abortion for mental and physical reasons are covered by Alberta Health Care.