Anti-abortion billboard in West Kelowna still standing despite complaint | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Anti-abortion billboard in West Kelowna still standing despite complaint

This new billboard replaces one that Kelowna Right to Life Society was asked to take down in June 2019.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Marlon Bartram, Kelowna Right to Life Society
September 06, 2019 - 4:41 PM

KELOWNA -  A West Kelowna billboard that reads "abortion hurts men, too" will stay up despite complaints made to Ad Standards.

The newest anti-abortion themed billboard is located near Grizzly Road on Highway 97 and features the silhouette of a man looking out over Okanagan Lake with the captions, “Abortion Hurts Men, Too,” and “Many Grieve their Lost Children.”

Within a week of the billboard going up, a complaint was submitted to Ad Standards.

In a press release from the Right to Life Society, its executive director Marlon Bartram writes that someone complained that the ad violates Ad Standards’ code because it suggests embryos in the first weeks of conception are equivalent to human children and because it perpetuates stigma around abortion.

"Kelowna Right to Life responded to the complaint by citing several studies showing abortion can and does hurt men," Bartram writes. "They also included dozens of excerpts from testimonies of men who have been hurt by abortion. According to Ad Standards, KRTL’s response was forwarded to the complainant, who in turn did not request a council review. In addition, several other complaints about the billboard were submitted to Ad Standards, (which) determined they were without merit and did not pursue remediation."

The ad is scheduled to run six months.

While this ad seems to have passed through the required hurdles, a previous billboard that read “Our right to life does not depend on our location” did not.

It violated two sections of the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards — accuracy and clarity and unacceptable depictions and portrayals. Ad Standards claimed the billboard denigrated women and misinformed the public by suggesting late-term abortions are common in Canada.

That board was up for about 14 months before being ordered to be removed by Ad Standards Canada.   

Members of the anti-abortion group who have congregated outside of the hospital for years also suffered a recent setback in June, which iNFOnews reported on at the time.

Frustrated by the never-ending stream of stories about the erosion of abortion services in the USA, then Kelowna resident Kerry-Lee Gray decided it was time she took a stand and started a pro-choice rally to coincide with the anti-abortion protest. 

Just a few weeks into their effort Gray started to feel like she was making real changes. She learned of the abortion service act, which states there can be no protest within 60 metres of a facility providing abortion services for the sake of a woman’s privacy.

Gray called the RCMP and asked them if they were aware of it. They did a little digging and told her that act only applies to designated abortion facilities, which KGH is not.

Even then, however, protestors have to stay 10 metres back from the hospital, which meant this week they had to move from their normal perch to south of Rose Avenue.

There were also some patrols to ensure anti-abortion protestors weren’t blocking sidewalk access and their signs were no longer allowed to be hung on hospital property.

Abortion, like other aspects of reproduction, is treated as a medical issue in Canada.

Canada made it so in 1988 when the Supreme Court struck down the country's abortion law as unconstitutional in the landmark Morgentaler ruling and public opinion in this country supports that tack.

A poll conducted by Ipsos global survey from 2017 showed that more than three in four Canadians say abortion should be permitted, which is higher than the global average of 71 per cent. Just over half said abortion should be permitted whenever a woman decides she wants one, while one in four favour some limits, saying it should be permitted in certain circumstances, such as if a woman has been raped.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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