Recently a media campaign mounted by a national anti-choice group used billboards, transit shelters, bus ads, radio ads, newspaper ads and postcards to denounce abortion with the tag line “Nine months: The length of time abortion is allowed in Canada. No medical reason needed?” These ads are offensive and due to public criticism have been pulled in at least one Canadian city.
According to the group LifeCanada, it means only to educate the public about the dangers of having no abortion legislation in Canada. On Monday January 28th, Canada will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the ground-breaking Morgentaler decision, which removed abortion from the Criminal Code. Since then Canada has had no legislation that restricts abortion; however, access to abortion services is still limited across the country. As the pro-choice movement comes together to remember this victory, and to discuss what work still needs to be done, the anti-choice side has decided that a more abrasive campaign was needed to make Canadians aware of how abortion is affecting the country.
The LifeCanada website, www.AbortionInCanada.ca, has been disguised as a “neutral” site aimed at helping women through crisis pregnancies. They even quote statistics by the pro-choice organization, the Guttmacher Institute. Once you start navigating through the site it becomes evident that the site is dedicated to propagating myths surrounding abortion. It even has a crisis line for pregnant women to call — but I am guessing that callers will not get the unbiased support of whoever is on the other end of the line.
There needs to be accountability in Canada when a group decides to disseminate inaccurate information about an issue as controversial as abortion. In Hamilton, Ontario, where the ads were pulled, the Mayor and Counsellor responsible for the move said that there had been very little feedback from the pro-choice community. This means that we need to take a moment and support actions such as these to ensure that our voices are heard. If we do not then an assumption will be made that in fact the public is sympathetic to these groups’ actions, and in the future similar ads may not be taken down.
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If you live in Canada and would like to lodge a complaint about these ads in your city, contact your municipal government such as your mayor, or local counsellor or lodge a complaint with Advertising Standards Canada at: http://www.adstandards.com/en/consumerSite/howToSubmitAComplaint.asp