Ads claim Scots abortion figures helped save lives in Northern Ireland
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.”