Truth in Advertising? Not From Human Life Alliance

Robin Marty

An advertising supplement sold to colleges and universities by a Minneapolis-based anti-choice group tells women that carrying their rapist's baby to term will help them heal and that abortion causes breast cancer.

This article introduces a series on an advertising supplement being sold by Minneapolis-based Human Life Alliance to colleges and universities. In each piece, Robin Marty, Rewire Contributing Editor, will examine one in the series of ads for misleading, dangerous and outrageous information.

For yet another example that you can’t always trust what you read, it appears that a pro-life group in the Midwest is paying student newspapers to accept an “advertising supplement” that actually consists of a misleading, factually inaccurate descriptions of abortions. Some schools in the region are rejecting these paid supplements. However, others are accepting them, and their students are outraged.

Human Life Alliance, a self-identified non-profit, non-denominational, pro-life organization located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has been running their Icare "advertising supplements" for 14 years according to their website. Their target has been high school and college campuses across the country, claiming to have distributed over 30 million copies of their pro-life magazine.

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But students have been vocal in reacting to the publication, which is being distributed inside some campus newspapers. Their major complaint? Icare’s articles are misleading and often factually inaccurate, and newspapers, who are being paid to distribute the supplement, see no reason to add a correction.

From an editorial in Student Voice, a publication of the University of Wisconsin, River Falls:

The purported “Advertising Supplement” featured medically inaccurate descriptions of abortion care and the same ideologically driven conflation of birth control and abortion that has jeopardized access to birth control for college students and rape victims throughout Wisconsin.

According to Human Life Alliance (HLA) distribution coordinator Jillian Roemer and Virginia Zignego, communications director for PLW, Pro-Life Wisconsin reimbursed HLA the $570 fee for the insert, as well as additional overhead costs to cover the printing and shipping of the inserts. These inserts, which were characterized by Pro-Life Wisconsin as “educational inserts” of “solid pro-life content,” are intentionally designated as “Advertising Supplements” on each page so student newspapers will distribute PLW propaganda, according to Roemer.

Shame on HLA and PLW for using such calculated maneuvers to spread their rag on UW-River Falls. And editor, shame on you too for not taking the time to think about what exactly is being “advertised” by the so-called “Advertising Supplements” you choose to accept.

Nothing was being advertised here; instead, you contributed to the dissemination of 12-page tasteless booklets of disinformation designed to denigrate and shame women who receive abortion care.

According to Human Life Alliance, the Icare advertising supplement is an "updated" version of their original publication She’s A Child, Not A "Choice." In 1996, students from Rice University in Texas complained about a similar supplement published by the same group.

Based on the complaint of the Rice students, it’s clear that very little has changed when comparing the 1996 and current 2008 versions of the supplement.

For example, both editions claim:

  • that abortion causes breast cancer;
  • birth control pills only suppress ovulation 50% of the time; and
  • rape victims would feel they "conquered" their attack/rape if they carried their child to term and gave birth to it.

 

The articles in Icare range from factually inaccurate to outright outrageous. In this upcoming series we will look at individual pieces within the supplement, fact-checking the claims and presenting the more egregious of the arguments for life at all cost presented by the Human Life Alliance.

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