In a Facebook post, Stanton Healthcare Belfast praised the baby powder-scented Yankee Candle: "It just smells like a newborn baby."
Screenshot via Stanton Healthcare Belfast Facebook page
An anti-abortion charity in Belfast, Northern Ireland, has just recommended baby powder-scented Yankee Candles to all crisis pregnancy centers.
In July, Stanton Healthcare Belfast posted a blurry photograph of a Yankee Candle on their Facebook page with the caption: "Stanton Healthcare would recommend to all crisis pregnancy centre's [sic] the new baby powder yankee candle. It just smells like a new born [sic] baby. #lovelife #lovebabies #protectthemboth #loveyankeecandles"
Irish news website Buzz.ie reports that the post recently started trending on Facebook, where people have taken to the comments section to express their outrage over its implications. However, it appears that Stanton Healthcare has also been deleting negative reactions to their suggestion that lighting a baby powder–scented candle is an appropriate waiting room tactic to convince women to keep their pregnancies.
In a post screencapped by Buzz.ie, one commenter asked: "Do these candles come in the scents of shame, stigma or social isolation?" It appears that the comment has since been deleted.
"Love that you're deleting so many comments so it just looks like you lunatics are talking to yourselves," one commenter noted, in one of the few negative Facebook comments left standing. Another reads, "Ridiculous and self-righteous so called pro-lifers [...] Why don't you help children that are already in the system instead of poking your noses into other people's vaginas? Bunch of hypocrites."
A Yankee Candle spokesperson told Broadly, "Yankee Candle is not affiliated with Stanton Healthcare Belfast. We are currently addressing the issue." Stanton Healthcare did not respond to a request for comment.
Crisis pregnancy centers often masquerade as legitimate medical centers, and their sole aim is to persuade women to carry their pregnancies to term. They are known to use scaremongering pseudo-science to frighten women from considering abortions, including false claims that abortion leads to breast cancer or infertility.
Stanton Healthcare is based in Idaho, with affiliate branches in several other US locations, and it opened its first and only international facility in the center of Belfast in October 2015. The so-called "life-affirming" center is on the same street as the Marie Stopes UK Belfast Centre, the first and only private clinic to offer abortions to women in the region. When Stanton Healthcare launched its center in Belfast, it said that it was in "direct opposition to the abortion business of Marie Stopes."
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), which offers abortion services to women in the UK, tweeted of the Facebook post: "A scented candle won't convince a woman to have a child."
BPAS spokesperson Katherine O'Brien told Broadly: "Not only is this a rather cruel attempt to manipulate women who may be in incredibly desperate circumstances, it is also profoundly patronizing. The majority of women who have an abortion are already mothers—they know perfectly well how a newborn baby smells, and the idea that any woman could be convinced to have a child by the mere presence of a scented candle is just insulting.
"While we are sure that their waiting rooms now smell perfectly lovely," she continued, "this new strategy rather reeks of desperation."