Peter Baklinski

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Advertising Standards Council slams pro-life commercial, penalizes pro-life organization

Peter Baklinski
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GUELPH, Ontario, October 11, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – In what one pro-life leader is calling a case of blatant bias, the Advertising Standards Council of Canada (ASC) has censured a pro-life TV commercial for allegedly being “misleading” and “demean[ing] and denigrat[ing to] women”. The ASC Council will penalize the Ontario pro-life organization behind the commercial for refusing to “permanently withdraw or appropriately amend” it.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Jakki Jeffs, executive director of Alliance For Life Ontario, to LifeSiteNews. “The ASC is effectively saying that we’ve no right to this position and that we’ve no right to our message being on television. They’re just trying to shut our message down.”

Since 2000, Alliance For Life Ontario has run six pro-life campaigns on mainstream television across Ontario that aim at reaching out to women experiencing a crisis pregnancy and at challenging the status quo acceptance of abortion.

This year’s campaign focused on the 3.5 million people missing in Canada since 1969, when abortion was legally permitted. Two commercials ran 500 times each and were viewed by as many as 14 million people.

The campaign appeared to be running smoothly when Jeffs received notice from the ASC of complaints over the pro-life “Milk Carton” commercial.

ASC wrote to Jeffs that they had received six complaints from consumers who alleged that the commercial contravened various clauses of the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards (CCAS), according to documents obtained by LifeSiteNews.com.

The “Milk Carton” commercial shows a line of women and men processing through a barren wasteland holding milk cartons which bear the face of a missing child due to abortion. Numerous cartons are seen to be placed, one after another, on the hard cracked ground to form a surreal memorial. The commercial states:

In 1969 the Canadian Government liberalized our abortion laws abandoning all protection for children in the womb. The Supreme Court of Canada struck these laws down in 1988 further abandoning expectant mothers to the abortion industry. We have tolerated 43 years of abortion in Canada resulting in 3.5 million missing children, teens and young adults. While, we know how all of them disappeared, we will never know what they had to offer. See what we’ve been missing.

“It’s not an ‘in your face’ kind of message” said Jakki. “It just talks about the truth that if you kill by abortion, you lose people.”

But after viewing the commercial, the ASC Council decided that they were “unable to agree” with the statement that there are “3.5 million missing children, teens and young adults” since “no reliable evidence was provided to show how many of these children, if any, would have survived birth, childhood or their teenage years and become adults.”

The Council subsequently ruled that the commercial was “misleading” and “contrary” to clause 1(a and e) of the CCAS code that deals with “accuracy and clarity”.

The Council said furthermore that the commercial “demeaned and denigrated women who have chosen to have abortions,” since the “combined effect [of the commercial] was to convey the impression, in Council’s opinion, that all women who have had or are considering having abortions now regret or will in the future regret having done so.”

The Council also ruled that the commercial contravened clause 14(c) of the CCAS code that deals with “unacceptable depictions and portrayals”.

Jeffs told LifeSiteNews that she found it “unbelievable” that the ASC took issue with the main message of the commercial.

“The fact remains that if all these children had been born, they would have, at least, had a chance to live,” she said. “I can’t imagine that all 3.5 million of them would have been dead within a minute of birth or a minute prior to birth.”

Since Jeffs refused to pull or amend the commercial, as demanded by the ASC, the ASC will now identify Alliance for Life Ontario for offending their guidelines in a public report that will appear on their website.

While Jeffs fears that the ASC’s censorship and vilifying public report will negatively affect her organization’s ability to purchase ad time for its next television campaign, she says that nevertheless she is already pushing ahead with fundraising for the next run of pro-life commercials.

“We’ll be up and running again, and I imagine that I’ll be facing the same battle again,” she said.

Contact information:

Advertising Standards Council of Canada
Linda J. Nagel, President and CEO
Phone: (416) 961-7904 (ext) 222
Nagel’s online email form: http://www.adstandards.com/EmailStaff.aspx?Name=Linda.

Janet Feasby, Vice-President, Standards
Phone: (416) 961-7904 (ext) 243
Feasby’s online email form: http://www.adstandards.com/EmailStaff.aspx?Name=Janet.

175, Bloor Street, East
Toronto, Ontario
M4W 3R8

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