A graphic anti-abortion ad featuring images of the severed body part of a fetus is set to run Monday on a Kelowna television station.
The 60-second ad, titled “Everyone Against Abortion, Please Raise Your Hand,” depicts an image of an adult hand holding the severed hand of a fetus with a message that reads: “This is the hand of a child that was aborted. Let us mourn for these children. May our hearts be broken enough for God to enter and stir us to action to defend their lives.”
Marlon Bartram, executive director of Kelowna Right to Life, which is paying to run the ad, said the society had run at least three pro-life ads in the past, albeit not as graphic.
“Why run it now? Because they are killing children now,” explained the head of the 400-member group.
Bartram said the ad was created by a U.S. group called Priests for Life. Bartram said he was told the body part came from a Texas abortion clinic.
He believes it is the first time ever that Canadian TV is featuring an ad with actually photos of a part of an aborted baby.
Bartram expects controversy.
“I am sure there will be people claiming that the ads should not be allowed to be run on TV.”
CHBC Kelowna’s news director Derek Hinchliffe explained every ad the station runs is vetted by the Television Bureau of Canada.
“It has met with their approval, so if we were to say, ‘No, we’re not going to run it,’ we would have been offensive,” he said.
Joyce Arthur of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada said such ads are disturbing, offensive and frightening as they could incite violence against both women seeking abortions and the medical staff that provide them.
“When you portray abortion like this, as murder and killing, it portrays abortion staff as murderers and it can incite violence on some level,” Arthur said.
“I’m very surprised any mainstream outlet would approve such an ad . . . There’s no sense. It’s puzzling and it’s sad. It’s going to cause a lot of anger and anguish for women.”
Greg Smith, executive director of B.C.’s Options for Sexual Health, Canada’s largest non-profit provider of sexual health services, including pregnancy counselling and education, said such graphic ads distorted the issue and seldom changed opinions.
“With any ad against or in support of abortion rights you probably aren’t going to change the minds of most of the population. It is an intensely personal decision for women, and it’s not an easy decision for women to make,” Smith said.
“The debate about abortion is really old and in terms of factual information there’s not a lot to be added. Anti-abortion folks tend to have to distort information if they intend to break any new ground.”
Smith also questioned the legitimacy of the images.
“It’s going to be important for people to ask for hard proof.”
Smith added that outlawing abortion appeared to do little to stem demand: countries where abortions are legal have similar rates as those where it is prohibited.
The main effect was on women: more died of sepsis or botched abortions or were jailed in countries with anti-abortion laws.
Bartram acknowledged graphic tactics are not unanimously supported even in the pro-life movement.
A poll on the society’s own website asking visitors their opinion on “the use of graphic imagery to fight abortion” showed while 50 per cent said it was necessary and 24 per cent said it was useful but had drawbacks, 26 per cent felt it was not a good idea, due to its effect on women and children or because it made pro-life supporters appear “too radical.”
Bartram countered that prolifers opposed tended to be “women who are post-abortive” and those who “work in crisis pregnancy centres.” He said he sympathized, but believed it was necessary to use graphic images to get the point across.
“There is nothing the other side would like more than to have these images out of the public eye. When pro-lifers refuse to show these images, they are helping to keep these images hidden and helping the pro-abortion side,” he said.