Ads claim Scots abor­tion fig­ures helped save lives in North­ern Ire­land

Sunday Herald - - NEWS - BY PETER SWINDON

SCOT­LAND’S abor­tion fig­ures have con­tro­ver­sially fea­tured in a North­ern Ire­land pro­life ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign.

The ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign claims the ban on abor­tion in North­ern Ire­land has “saved 100,000 lives” since 1967 when ter­mi­na­tions were le­galised in the UK.

Un­like the rest of the UK, abor­tion is only per­mit­ted in North­ern Ire­land if a woman’s life is at risk or there is a per­ma­nent or seri- ous risk to her men­tal or phys­i­cal health.

There were just 16 le­gal ter­mi­na­tions ac­cord­ing to the lat­est fig­ures for 2014-15, whereas more than 3,000 women trav­elled to main­land UK and had to pay for them. Per­form­ing an il­le­gal abor­tion in North­ern Ire­land can even be pun­ish­able by life im­pris­on­ment.

An es­ti­mated 500,000 ter­mi­na­tions have been car­ried out in Scot­land since the Abor­tion Act 1967 le­galised the med­i­cal pro­ce­dure.

The Ad­ver­tis­ing Stan­dards Agency (ASA), which reg­u­lates in­dus­try stan­dards, re­ceived 14 com­plaints about the posters pro­duced by the North­ern Ir­ish or­gan­i­sa­tion Both Lives Mat­ter (BLM) which cited the Scot­tish fig­ures as ev­i­dence that in North­ern Ire­land “100,000 peo­ple are alive to­day be­cause of our laws on abor­tion”.

The poster added: “Why change that?”

The or­gan­i­sa­tion at­tempted to es­ti­mate the num­ber of peo­ple alive in North­ern Ire­land to­day be­cause the UK Act had not been in­tro­duced in North­ern Ire­land.

Pro-choice com­plainants asked the ASA to in­ves­ti­gate on the grounds that the posters were mis­lead­ing. The ASA ruled BLM’s posters were not in breach of its guide­lines be­cause there is “a rea­son­able prob­a­bil­ity” that there were around 100,000 peo­ple in North­ern Ire­land who were born to moth­ers who would have aborted their preg­nancy if it had been le­gal.

The judg­ment said there was “no ev­i­dence on which to sug­gest that the ac­tual fig­ure would have been sig­nif­i­cantly lower than 100,000”.

Dr Gor­don Mac­don­ald, a spokesman for Scot­tish pro-life cam­paign group Don’t Stop A Beat­ing Heart, said: “The cam­paign was force­ful and fac­tual but has also re­vealed the mas­sive cost in hu­man terms of abor­tion in Scot­land with 500,000 ba­bies lost since 1967 which is a tragedy on a colos­sal scale.”

But Jane Car­nall of the Ed­in­burgh branch of pro-choice group Abor­tion Rights said pre­vent­ing women from hav­ing abor­tions safely and legally in North­ern Ire­land “has sim­ply out­sourced le­gal abor­tions to char­i­ties in the rest of the UK at the pa­tients’ own dif­fi­culty and ex­pense”.

A spokesper­son for the Hu­man­ist So­ci­ety Scot­land added: “Far from a cam­paign for hu­man rights, the BLM cam­paign is a fur­ther at­tempt to op­press women by fringe groups in North­ern Ire­land.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.