Belfast Telegraph

Complaint over abortion billboard claim dismissed by advertising regulator

A complaint about a billboard campaign claiming Northern Ireland's restrictive abortion laws had saved 100,000 lives has been dismissed by the regulator.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the assertion was not misleading and there was a "reasonable probability" it was largely accurate.

Pro-life lobby group Both Lives Matter faced a challenge after 14 complaints said the claim could not be substantiated.

An ASA statement 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.

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

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where terminations remained banned after the 1967 Abortion Act was introduced in Great Britain.

Both Lives Matter said it had attempted to estimate the number of people alive in Northern Ireland today because the law had not been introduced in Northern Ireland, meaning the procedure was still illegal.

They said it was not possible to calculate an exact figure but 100,000 represented a credible and conservative estimate.

The calculation was based on a comparison with Scotland's abortion ratio.

Dawn McAvoy, spokeswoman for Both Lives Matter, said she was delighted with the result.

She added: "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.

"Their expert concluded that it is reasonable to say that 100,000 people are alive today who would have otherwise been aborted had it been legal to do so.

"This independent verification is a real endorsement of our campaign."

Ms McAvoy said statistically everyone in Northern Ireland knows someone who is alive today because of "balanced" laws relating to abortion.

She said: "We wanted people to realise that this had changed the lives of everyone. It also debunks the myth that law doesn't stop abortions - it clearly does."

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