Public Radio Station Gets Backlash From Abortion Groups After Ad Edit

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 23, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Public Radio Station Gets Backlash From Abortion Groups After Ad Edit Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 23, 2004

Chapel Hill, NC ( — A public radio station in North Carolina that changed an announcement from a pro-abortion group out of concern that it would violate FCC guidelines against political advocacy is facing a backlash from leading abortion advocacy groups.

Earlier this month, WUNC-FM informed Ipas, an international pro-abortion group based in town, that it could not run a sponsorship ad because it used the term "reproductive rights," which could be interpreted as advocating a political position.

The station required the group to use the phrase "reproductive health" instead.

According to the Ipas Web site, the original wording of the announcement was "Ipas, a Chapel Hill-based nonprofit that protects women’s reproductive health and rights at home and abroad."

Ipas’ executive vice president, Anu Kumar, is upset by the decision because the words don’t mean the same thing.

"What concerns me is the chilling effect of the world we’re living in, which makes everybody super-cautious about what they say," she told the Associated Press. "The issue of reproductive rights, like many others, has been cast as an ‘either you’re with us or you’re against us’ issue, and so much of the language is assumed to be code for something else."

Joan Siefert Rose told AP that the decision was made to avoid potential trouble with the Federal Communications Commission, which prohibits public radio stations from airing political ads.

"We can accept sponsorships and make announcements from advocacy groups, but we can’t use advocacy language," Rose said.

Ipas is reacting to the decision by pulling its support from WUNC.

Since February, Ipas had been donating $1,680 per month to WUNC in exchange for airing its announcement 20 times.

The decision to pull the plug on the ads has drawn support from 22 leading pro-abortion groups, including the National Abortion Federation and Planned Parenthood.

The organizations released a joint statement declaring their outrage at the WUNC decision saying the rewording denied Ipas its free speech rights.

"We are both outraged and saddened by WUNCs decision to cave in to the implicit threats of the Bush administration and are hopeful that they will recognize that a free press has a duty to defend the right of free speech," the statement said.

Ipas says it will return to the station if it is allowed to run its promotional with the phrase "reproductive rights" included in it.

The station is a North Carolina affiliate of National Public Radio (NPR).