A 2008 the Advertising Standards Canada ruling said, “the Canadian Government has not, through legislation or otherwise, declared that abortions were either legal or illegal.”
In 2018 they said: “binding Canadian law that permits abortion in Canada does, in fact, currently exist.”
But nothing has changed legally in between those two rulings…
If you read the above quotes and thought they were contradictory, you are right: Ad Standards has ruled against itself!
The decision that our billboard contravenes the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards calls into question Advertising Standards Canada (ASC)’s ability to make impartial decisions based on facts and evidence.
As we’ve shared with you in past communications, ASC, a self-regulating body that enforces the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards, was asked to rule on the billboard after complaints were submitted with encouragement from the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada – a pro-abortion activist organization.
Tabitha Ewert, legal counsel for We Need a Law , was quick to point out that “This decision is one in a series of rulings over the years that seem to show a willingness to be used by abortion activists to censor pro-life organizations.”
You, our faithful supporters, have invested heavily in this billboard campaign. It was with your help that we entered into a contract with Pattison Outdoor to install over thirty billboards across Canada this summer. The message that Canada has no abortion law is one that needs to get out in the public; polls indicate that up to 77% of Canadians are unaware that Canada has no abortion laws. There is no federal or provincial law, or provincial college policy, that regulates abortion.
Please know that the ruling will not impact the billboard campaign as the last signs are scheduled to come down on September 30th. We have been given until October 4th to appeal this decision, and it is our intention to do so.
You may wonder why this is necessary as the billboard campaign is nearly expired anyway.
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The reason is that we can no longer sit idly by while various ruling bodies – whether government, or self-regulatory – continue to censor the pro-life message. If this ruling stands, it does not bode well for We Need a Law, or any other groups who want to display pro-life advertising. In other words, we need to exercise all our opportunities to right this wrong decision.
The fact that ASC has been inconsistent in their rulings shows an organization heavily influenced by activist pressure rather than the neutral self-regulatory body they purport to be. In the past they ruled against a pro-life ad for suggesting there was a law, and now they are ruling against our message because we are saying there is no law! It is our hope and prayer that they will recognize their error and be willing to correct it.