Anti-abortion billboard “offensive” says ASA

[notice]Christian Action Network to appeal against ruling[/notice]

The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) has ruled that the Christian Action Network’s (CAN) billboard stating “Abortion Kills Babies,” is “offensive” and must be withdrawn.

The side of the mobile billboard in question reads “Since 1997, 700 000 [updated in 2010 to 1 000 000] babies have lost their right to life. Abortion kills babies. ‘Choose Life so that you and your children may live'” next to a picture of an 18 week old pre-born baby sucking its thumb.

The other side of the billboard not considered in the ASA ruling, depicts an 8 week-old pre-born baby and states “8 weeks after conception: heartbeat, brainwave, fingerprints, hiccups, somersaults, thumb sucking. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…”

In its ruling published yesterday, on a consumer complaint about the billboard, the ASA says CAN is “sensationalising facts in a manner that comes across as denouncing not only the practice of abortion, but by implication those who have exercised their legal right to choose this option”.

In a media statement released today, CAN International Co-ordinator Taryn Hodgson retorts:
“This is incredibly hypocritical of the ASA to rule our billboard offensive when they allow billboards from strip joints with highly suspected involvement in trafficking to depict half-naked women as sex objects,”

The CAN statement says that the mobile billboard has been used twice a year by CAN for over 10 years as part of its pro-life demonstrations – on the National Day of Repentance (1 February) – the anniversary of the legalisation of abortion in South Africa, and secondly on International Life Chain Sunday. “These demonstrations are legal according to the Regulation of Gatherings Act, so is the ASA suggesting that the hundreds of placards also stating that ‘Abortion Kills Babies’ are also illegal?” asks Hodgson.

The complainant stated to the ASA that billboard is offensive because abortion is legal and likened the billboard to “white supremacists stating their racist views” , says Hodgson.

“Apartheid and slavery were also once legal, but neither were right. Abortion is legal, but that does not make it right. We have the Constitutional right to freedom of speech to speak up for the Right to Life of the pre-born.”

“In our response to the woman’s complaint submitted to the ASA, we pointed out that NGOs have billboards with pictures of pre-born babies and warnings not to drink or smoke whilst pregnant as it could ‘harm your baby’. In their judgement, the ASA stated that our message in contrast to such billboards, is not one of ‘social responsibility’ but a “viewpoint on moral values, something substantially more subjective and intimately personal.”

“In our response to the woman’s complaint submitted to the ASA, we pointed out that NGOs have billboards with pictures of pre-born babies and warnings not to drink or smoke whilst pregnant as it could ‘harm your baby’. In their judgement, the ASA stated that our message in contrast to such billboards, is not one of ‘social responsibility’ but a “viewpoint on moral values, something substantially more subjective and intimately personal.”

“We think that speaking up for the right to life of pre-born babies is our social responsibility and we will be appealing this ruling as a violation of our Constitutional right to freedom of speech and religion,” says Hodgson.

“It is notable that the ASA, paid by the advertisers, so often rules in favour of advertisers’ adverts offensive to many South Africans, yet rules a billboard stating the obvious truth that ‘abortion kills babies’, as ‘offensive’ to the hypothetical ‘reasonable person’!”

“At all our Life Chains we collect baby items which are donated to Christian organisations dedicated to helping the destitute and those facing a crisis pregnancy.”

10 Comments

  1. How true that in the mind of the ungodly, evil is good and good is evil, There is no such thing as a ‘SAFE ABORTION’. It always kills and it is the unvoiced innocent life that pays the price.

  2. The South African constitution is at odds with the Bible. This is war. And as a Christian I will fight for righteousness truth and justice.

  3. Truth Choice Minisrties

    James 4 v 4 says that if anyone is a friend of this world he is an enemy of God. God states in Psalm 139 how wonderfully we where created. Any person condoning,approving,performing,assisting and voting for a political party that promulgates abortion has the blood of those innocent babies on there hands. Abortion is MURDER. We don’t care if it is legal according to mans world view , it is not according to God’s laws. Abortion is legal because people believe in evolution. If you believe you came from nothing and you will return to nothing then your view of live is worth nothing and the value of life is nothing. STOP making excuses and trying to Justify the slaughter and murder of innocent babies formed in there mothers wombs by the one and Only true living God. Don’t give in to satan and his demons. Value life because God gave it to us.

  4. Keep up the good work guys, there will always be a fight against the “world” until they fully understand. We had an anti abortion march last year in Polokwane , will want to have one again soon.

  5. Iain Benson (Prof.)

    In response to the comment above, the South African Constitution does NOT sanction undemocratic suppression of free speech. What is needed is a test case in relation to this sort of suppression of information every citizen should be entitled to debate. I am writing from Canada where the constitutionality of hate speech laws before Human Rights Tribunals has just been argued as unconstitutional before the Supreme Court of Canada (October 2011). That decision is reserved.

  6. but is the billboard advertising? how does the ASA have anything to do with a ststement? CAn isn’t selling anything..? I can see ASA having jurisdiction over an advertising company, but CAN isn’t one..?

  7. Peter is right, this has nothing to do with the ASA and CAN is not obligated to withdraw the display. It is not advertising but legally protected speech which is permitted under the constitution of South Africa. If a complainant does not like it or if the ASA does not like they will have to take CAN to court. CAN are not selling anything and the display can be classified as religious material. CAN are not in any way bound by this ruling. For more information see the constitution of the Republic of South Africa. Remember that in the United States religious groups enjoy protected free speech, even crazy groups like the Westboro Baptist Church who have won cases all the way to the Supreme Court. Religious speech is protected speech. The ASA should have realised this and recused themselves.

  8. I commend this action by CAN. I believe its time for Christians to contest such advertising spaces to send the message that Jesus Christ is Lord and he demands justice even to voices that cannot speak for themselves.

  9. I salute u for being relentless with the antiabortion campaigne. For to long the christians are being bashed for their beliefs.

  10. Well I think it is offensive that they think it is offensive. So it is okay for them to claim that true Christians are mean, but they can go off and kill babies at the drop of a hat. Wow, how off is America at this point.