Anti-Abortion Group Finally Gets Called on Their Lies

What a great Christmas present! The Advertising Standards Council told the PEI Right to Life Association that their recent ad contained three specific false statements and therefore must be pulled. Woohoo! It's pretty common for 'pro-life' propaganda to be liberally peppered with stretched truths and outright lies and it seems no one ever does anything about it. It makes me so angry to see them making up stuff to try to guilt women out of having an abortion. If there were really strong arguments against abortion, they could allow them to speak for themselves instead of making up all this stuff. I'm so pleased that complaints were made and that the Advertising Standards Council sided with the truth.

The three things that they took issue with are the claim that abortion is never medically necessary to save a woman's life. We all know that is not true. I looked at the Right to Life Association's defense of this and, if you really want to contort the facts, they may be right. Yes, it is a rare case where we know for sure that a woman will die if she carries her baby to term. In cases where we know that the woman's health is at risk, and she wants to carry the baby, lots of options are open to do the utmost to save the baby's health and her health and often, though not always, these are successful. So, can we say that there are many cases where we know for sure that a woman would have died if she hadn't had an abortion? No, there are probably very few. But we do know that there are many cases where it is discovered that the woman's health will be at serious risk if she carries a baby to term. The anti-abortionists don't consider a choice for abortion in this case to be medically necessary because the woman's health is merely at risk, she is not certain to die. In other words, they believe that choosing not to carry a baby to term because there is a strong chance that you could get very sick and die, is tantamount to murder. I disagree.

As well, if they want to continue to make the claim that abortion is never medically necessary, I would direct their attention to this story from Ireland.

The second claim was that Canada's lack of a law amount to abortion on demand in Canada. I don't really get what they are on about here, but the Advertising Standards Council found that this was not true.

The third claim was that having an abortion increases a woman's risk of getting breast cancer. This is the one the really boils my potatoes. Firstly, it's simply not true, even though PEI Right to Life is sticking to its guns. The idea comes from the knowledge that when a woman becomes pregnant, her breast tissue begins to change in preparation for breast-feeding. If the pregnancy does not go to term, the natural hormone cycle is not complete and may leave open the possibility for abnormal cells to grow. But if that is true, then it's not just women who have had abortions who would experience this but women who have had miscarriages as well. You don't see Right to Life bringing that up, do you? And it is were true, what would the point be? You should have your baby because if you don't, you'll get breast cancer? How does that make any sense at all? They are two completely unrelated issues and I don't think the possibility of cancer would factor into a woman's choice to bear a child that she didn't want to bear or to raise a child she wasn't ready to raise.

And anyway, all of this doesn't matter because IT'S NOT TRUE! The Canadian Cancer Society has a great page that explains the quite thorough research on this issue which shows that now significant correlation has ever been found between abortion and breast cancer risk.

As much as I don't agree with their position, I do think that these groups should have the right to advertise and promote themselves. I think that any belief or opinion group should have the right to do that. Others who believe as they do should have an opportunity to find like-minded people.

If you think abortion is wrong and you want pregnant women who also believe abortion is wrong to have support, that's just peachy-keen with me. But don't put blatant scary lies into the public domain where vulnerable women who aren't sure what they want will be guilted or terrified into making the decision you want them to make. It's abusive and unfair. I'm thrilled that the complaints were made and that they were taken to task for it.

Although this is the first one I've heard of, apparently it's not the first time it has happened. The Advertising Standards Council has investigated complaints against anti-abortion advertising several times and has decided against them several times. Maybe they'll get the message soon.