Over the past week or so in Dublin, ads like this have been appearing on the side of buildings:
There will be a lot of them.
“There are 220 Luas ads up as well now,” said Life’s Niamh UÃ Bhriain. There will be 200 advertisements on Dublin buses for four weeks, from June 25th. There will be screens at Heuston Station in Dublin, showing a moving unborn baby. There will be advertisements on buses in Limerick and Cork.
Some of them look like this:
Many people seem to want them taken down:
“This [advert] is very one sided and doesn’t have women’s best interests at heart. If you have enough money and are ideologically motivated it seems you can put up whatever you please because there’s no one there to stop you.”
– Stephanie Lord, Choice Ireland.
“Abortion is not a billboard issue…. Whether you’re for it or against it, essentially it’s very difficult, very delicate. It’s totally private and here it’s totally in your face.”
– Mother of two, quoted in the Irish Times
“If this group really cared for women, they wouldn’t be putting up these posters.”
I don’t want them taken down.
Firstly, the Advertising Standards Authority say that because of the “political” and non-commercial nature of the ads, they have no authority to ban or amend them. Siren Magazine has issued a template letter of complaint to the advertising company, JC Decaux, with no results as yet, so it seems we are stuck with them for the next few weeks.
It could be worse, I suppose. The ads aren’t visually disgusting, as many of the anti-choice protest images can sometimes be. I think the tagline “There’s always a better answer” is totally incorrect and easily falsifiable, but I suppose that could be construed as a matter of opinion.
I’d rather not see them, but given the ASAI’s current position, I can think of no solid, legal reason why they shouldn’t be allowed up there. And more than that: I don’t want to focus my energy on having those posters banned or taken down.
But I’ll tell you what I do want. I want those who call themselves journalists to investigate how much Youth Defence paid the media buyers, how much they paid for printing, and where they got all that money from: some experts indicate that the cost could be up to â‚¬250,000.
I want women who have had abortions to push back against the “tragic” narrative being forced on them and their choices by this campaign. With at least 4,000 Irish women a year travelling to Britain for abortions for the past twenty years, surely some of them could speak out?
I want everyone who is pro-choice in Ireland, everyone who hates those posters and the shame and lies they stand for, to donate to the IFPA or Choice Ireland or Action on X or whatever other organisations are standing up for women’s right to their own bodies in their own country. I want those pro-choice organisations to put up their own ads, ads that say “We trust women”, and not just be content to provide outraged quotes to the papers. Writing letters of protest to an advertising company is a distraction when we should be writing to our TDs, telling them to legislate for our rights to our own bodies.
I want talk.
Silencing the abortion issue is what we have done for decades, and it’s time for it to stop.