March 31, 2019 8:15 pm
Updated: April 1, 2019 1:05 pm

Multiple complaints over controversial anti-abortion billboard in West Kelowna

Several people have complained about a controversial anti-abortion billboard in the West Kelowna area. Jules Knox reports.

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An anti-abortion billboard in the West Kelowna area has recently drawn several complaints.

The board, which is on the highway near Grizzly Road, features a pregnant woman on the left and a mother and baby on the right. It reads: “Our right to life does not depend on our location.”

Several people have recently complained to Ad Standards Canada about the billboard’s content, according to Marlon Bartram, executive director of Kelowna Right to Life Society.

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Pro-choice advocate Jo Scofield called the message misleading.

“It’s frustrating because it’s a blatant scare tactic. There is no such thing as full-term abortions; you don’t need a law to make something illegal or criminalize something that is not going to happen anyway,” she added.

“We wouldn’t let any other advertising group put up a sign that is blatantly false, uses misinformation and has no bearing on reality,” Scofield said.

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But Bartram argued for free speech.

“The ad makes no claim about the frequency of late-term abortion in Canada. It simply states our right to life does not depend on where we are, our location,” he said.

The billboard has been up for more than a year, but Bartram said that after word of the initial complaint to Ad Standards got out recently, there were nine more.

“It’s not a fair use of ad standards,” he said. “It’s essentially the pro-abortion movement using ad standards as a tool to silence the pro-life movement.”

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Scofield said if the group wants to reduce abortion rates, funds would be better spent on improving access to contraception or better education and sexual health initiatives.

“But they’re welcome to advertise in a way that logically and scientifically sound and isn’t intended to cause mental distress or be emotionally abusive to people,” she said.

Bartram said he’s expecting a decision from the Ad Standards council in mid-April.

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