Repost – Liars for “Life”

With the debate about reproductive freedom and women’s rights, I thought I’d re-post an article from my archives. In 2012, the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada won an complaint to the Advertising Council of Canada on an advertisement by the PEI Right to Life Association. This article is still pertinent because the lies are still be spread by the anti-abortion campaigners no matter how many times they are exposed.

Liars for Life

On Oct 20, 2012. the PEI Right to Life Association took out a full page ad in The Charlottetown Guardian in which they spread some lies about abortion. Joyce Arthur, Executive Director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, called them out on their untruths, and sent an itemized letter to the Advertising Council of Canada.

In the introduction to her letter,  Ms Arthur outlines the sections of the Canadian Advertising Code that the ad transgresses.

The ad was placed by the PEI Right to Life Association. It advertises the Association’s advocacy viewpoint on the issue of abortion. However, the ad is rife with inaccuracies and also depicts women in a demeaning manner.
The attached pages cover in more detail the main problems I see in the ad. The list is not meant to be all-inclusive, but just covers the most egregious errors and demeaning statements that appear to be in contravention of Sections 1 and 14 of the Canadian Advertising Code. The ad also appears to contravene other sections of the advertising code including Clause 8, Professional or Scientific Claims, and Clause 11, Superstitions and Fears.

She continues to itemize the inaccurate points and provide links to actual facts that counter the untruths in the original ad. She received a response from the Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) that validated her complaints, or at least 3 of them, in a preliminary decision.

To Save a Woman’s Life…”abortion is never necessary to save the mother’s life.”
Council found that the use of the word “never” was too far reaching and absolute, noting that there have been credible, authoritative medical reports of pregnant women dying because they did not have access to abortions.

Lack of Legal Restraint…”the present legal vacuum does nothing more than permit abortion on demand.”  Council found that this claim does not accurately reflect the Canadian experience where the Canadian Medical Association recommends abortion after 20 weeks only under “exceptional circumstances” and where only 2% of abortions in Canada take place after 20 weeks.

“There is strong evidence linking abortion to breast cancer. Though hotly contested by
some, the connection is “one supported by numerous epidemiological studies and breast
physiology” In strong contrast to this, the Canadian Cancer Society, a highly respected authority on cancer, reports that the body of scientific evidence does not support an association between abortion and increased breast cancer risk. Council accepted the Canadian Cancer Society’s position as a correct statement of fact on the purported link between abortion and breast cancer.

As would be expected, the PEI Right to Life association ignores these facts and criticisms, and insists they are correct. Life Site News has a write-up on the decision, where the group insists their opinions count more than facts. Ann Marie Tomlins, spokesperson of the PEI Right to Life Association, claims victory in defeat.

“I believe that the complaint was made to the ASC, because our ad was so effective and so well done that the opposition was concerned that it would convince a lot of people to think twice about being pro-choice,”
Tomlins said that her organization is standing behind its statements. “I think that this is an attempt to discredit us because they’re afraid that we’ll do more ads,” she said.
Tomlins was not surprised by the ASC ruling, pointing out that the ASC has a history of ruling against pro-life organizations who reveal the truth about abortion through ads.

In the minds of Tomlins and her ilk , it’s all about the Advertising Council being biased and pro-choice, not at all about the so called pro-life organization promoting false information.

Misleading information, outright lies, and denigration of women are all part and parcel of being “pro-life”. If you need lies and coercion to make your arguments, you know you don’t have good arguments.

Originally posted December 31, 2012.

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