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Right to life ads to be ‘removed immediately’ from Grand River Transit buses

CBC News with Lyndsey Butcher 04 April 2019

Ads about abortion placed on Grand River Transit buses will be removed immediately after a complaint was lodged, the region says.

The ads claim abortion is linked to suicide, depression, substance abuse, infertility and breast cancer. The ads also have a phone number for the KW Right to Life group and promotes the Canadian documentary Hush, which is about abortion.

Lyndsey Butcher, executive director of the Shore Centre, asked the region to remove the ads.

In a letter to Region of Waterloo Chair Karen Redman, Butcher said the ads claims are “wholly inaccurate and reinforces the stigma and judgement felt by women in our community who have chosen to access a safe and legal medical procedure.”

“In effect, this ad is lying to members of our community,” Butcher wrote, calling the ads “dangerously misleading.”

In an emailed statement, Grand River Transit officials said the ads would be “removed immediately.”

“GRT has a review process in place for potentially controversial ads, this process was not followed by our contractor and the ads were displayed without approval,” the statement said.

“The contractor is obligated to adhere to the Canadian Code of Adverting Standards. The contractor will be required to submit these ads for review by the ad standards council to ensure they meet the code prior to resubmitting them to Grand River Transit as part of our review process.”

‘Outright lies’

Butcher says she became aware of the ads through the KW Right to Life’s Facebook page.

She says other ads from the group have “benign” messages like, “Pregnant? Afraid? Call for help.”

“I was quite surprised to see outright lies contained in their most recent ad buy,” Butcher said in an interview.

She noted the American Psychological Association has debunked claims that abortions are linked to mental health problems. The American Cancer Society says on its website that “scientific research studies have not found a cause-and-effect relationship between abortion and breast cancer.”

The KW Right to Life Association posted a photo of the bus ad to their Facebook page on March 30. The post said there were five different graphics with the same message.

Jane Richard, president of the KW Right to Life Association, said Thursday afternoon she had not been informed the ads would be removed and did not want to comment until she knew more.

She told CBC she believed the ads are accurate.