Petition to Remove Anti-Abortion Signs on Guelph Transit

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

  • (Image courtesy of www.guelphforlife.com)

    (Image courtesy of www.guelphforlife.com)

Written by Alice Lin

Earlier this month, a petition was set up in the Guelph community via Change.org urging the City of Guelph to remove the anti-abortion ads on city busses. The petition has reached over 2,000 signatures and the issue has been responded to by the Mayor, Karen Farbridge. However, whether or not this petition is the appropriate approach to this issue is questionable, as the advert does not legally violate the Canadian Advertising Standards.

As a student at Guelph, the advertisement at first glance caught me off guard as I squinted in disbelief. But I wasn’t offended by the message, just annoyed. Indeed, women in Canada indeed have the right to legally choose to abort a pregnancy or not. At the same time, Canadians are entitled to a freedom of expression under the constitution as long as it wasn’t message spreading hate. This of course, is also a subjective matter which may or may not be considered ‘hateful’ to the individual.

With that said, advertising spaces are one of those things in the gray area. Those ads on the city busses are displayed publicly but are actually private spaces managed by the city. As a source of revenue for the municipality, they set the rules and standards and have the ultimate decision in choosing to approve/disapprove the advertisements.

Like many other issues, abortion is contentious. Some anti-abortion supporters are driven by religious reasons, others are not. As a local organization, they are creating a buzz in the community by placing such an ad in the public, whether people like it or not. They are playing the game and playing it right in order to get the attention they need to support their mission. This is what advocacy is.

Regardless, is banning this ad really the answer? We cannot just hush up thing we don’t want to hear or see. Even though I feel a general discomfort towards this ad, I do not feel like my rights have been infringed upon. What this ad is saying to me, is not the fact that I don’t have a choice, but that they see value in a life even when it still isn’t born. I feel that advertisements using a more positive method of communicating a message are more acceptable than something blunt like this. Perhaps an advertisement for a pro-choice campaign can be established to counter the anti-abortion ads. Just a suggestion.

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