An advert highlighting the estimated 100,000 lives saved under Northern Ireland’s abortion law has been cleared of ‘misleading the public’.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) undertook a thorough investigation after receiving 14 complaints, but today say the number is legitimate.
Pro-life group Both Lives Matter created the advert for billboards in Northern Ireland, and says it is “delighted” with the result.
At the time, the group said: “Whatever your view on abortion, there are 100,000 reasons to pause and ask some big questions about where our culture is going.”
Unlike in England, Scotland and Wales – where abortion is widespread – in Northern Ireland abortion is not allowed, except to preserve the life of the mother.
Dawn McAvoy, of the pro-life group, said campaigners now want to work for better crisis pregnancy care, safeguard the current law and “create a life-affirming culture”.
The row broke out after Both Lives Matter produced a 20-page report estimating the number of people alive today because of Northern Ireland’s law.
An advert in January this year featured the claim and a link to the group’s website.
But the ASA investigated after receiving complaints. Over five months, and with the help of expert statisticians, it considered whether the figure was accurate.
In its report, published today, the Authority said: “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.”
McAvoy said: “We are delighted with this result. Our opponents said we could not substantiate the claim despite us producing a robust report. The ASA have examined our calculations and backed our figure.”
Over the summer, the Westminster Government said it will to pay for abortions for women from Northern Ireland.
In a letter from equalities minister Justine Greening to fellow MPs, she said: “At present women from Northern Ireland are asked for payment, and from now on it is our proposal that this will no longer happen.”
But The Christian Institute’s Head of Communications, Ciarán Kelly, said: “The Equalities Office clearly doesn’t believe in equal treatment for unborn children.”
He added, “our political leaders in Westminster should follow Northern Ireland’s lead and protect the most vulnerable people in society”.