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Northern Ireland

Pro-life abortion billboard 'unlikely to mislead readers' says ad watchdog

The ASA found a billboard claiming 100,000 lives were saved as a result of Northern Ireland’s abortion laws was not misleading.

THE ADVERTISING STANDARDS Authority (ASA) has found a billboard campaign claiming that 100,000 lives were saved as a result of Northern Ireland’s abortion laws was not misleading.

A total of 14 complaints challenged the advert by pro-life campaign group Both Lives Matter, which featured the claim “100,000 people are alive today because of our laws on abortion. Why change that?”.

Both Lives Matter said it had attempted to estimate the number of people alive in Northern Ireland today because the 1967 Abortion Act introduced in Britain had not been introduced in Northern Ireland.

In response to the complaints, the group said it was not possible to calculate an exact figure, but 100,000 represented a credible and conservative estimate.

The group stated it had provided a link to a report it had published on its website, which included its first methodology based on the application of the abortion rate in Scotland to Northern Ireland.

“Both Lives Matter believed that anyone viewing the ad would understand that the 100,000 figure was, in statistical terms, an estimate,” the ASA said.


In its ruling, the ASA said that readers were likely to understand the claim to relate to the number of individuals alive today that were born to mothers who would have aborted their pregnancy if it had been legal to do so.

The ASA concluded that 100,000 was “a large, round number that readers would typically associate with estimates”.

“On balance, we concluded that the evidence indicated that there was a reasonable probability that around 100,000 people were alive in Northern Ireland today who would have otherwise been aborted had it been legal to do so,” the ASA said.

Because we considered that readers would understand the figure to represent an estimate, we concluded that the claim was unlikely to materially mislead readers.

‘Wonderful vindication’

The Pro Life Campaign welcomed the ASA’s ruling today.

Commenting on the decision, Cora Sherlock of the campaign in Dublin said: ”Today’s ruling is a wonderful vindication for the initiative undertaken by Both Lives Matter.

“Today’s ruling from the ASA is more independent validation of the claims made by pro-life groups.”

Read: ‘The weight of the black secret that I have carried around’: Women share anonymous abortion stories

More: Graphic pro-life ‘education project’ to take place in Dublin today

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