If you’re travelling about town, you’re sure to see one of our ads, throughout the the city. While most of our advertising is received well from the community, a complaint was filed in April of this year with the Advertising Standards Council regarding our heartbeat ad.
The Complainant stated:
This advertisement implies that a fetus is a child, and therefore that abortion is murder. I see this advertisement on my daily walks with my child and not only find it offends my personal sensibilities, but is blatantly fear mongering and inaccurate. I believe this ad violates the following sections: Section 1: unsupported claims, misleading claims, Section 8: Inaccurate scientific claims, And potentially, Section 11: appeal to superstition.
See Cambridge Right to Life’s response and references printed below:
We believe that our ad, noted in Complaint # 152175, does not breach Section #1 of the Code for Accuracy and Clarity – it is accurate and is clear, while also backed scientifically and could not possibly be designated inaccurate, misleading or unclear. We have addressed Section 1 Accuracy and Clarity in the first references where all evidence points to a human heart beating for the first time at “about 22 days”, In one of the last references under “Other” a study is now questioning whether the human heart may actually begin beating at 16 days after fertilization and therefore we believe our statement ”a baby’s heart begins at 21 days” is not an inaccurate statement, during this exciting time in human development research.
We were also asked to address Section 11 “Superstition and Fear” which we have done in the second set of references. The following quote on the human development of an individual human being gives certainty to the fact that human life is a continuum from fertilization to death.
“The [human] zygote acts immediately and decisively to initiate a program of development that will, if uninterrupted by accident, disease, or external intervention, proceed seamlessly through formation of the definitive body, birth, childhood, adolescence, maturity, and aging, ending with death. This coordinated behavior is the very hallmark of an organism.”
Maureen L. Condic, “When Does Human Life Begin? A Scientific Perspective,” The Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person, Westchester Institute White Paper Series 1, no. 1 (October 2008): 7
We are a little unclear why section 11 of the Code would be applied to our ad. Since, if by referring to the time a baby’s heart starting beating, obviously implied but not stated, in the womb” we are considered to be spreading superstition and fear, then we contend that the Canadian Medical Association, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canada Pre-natal Nutrition Program should have the same accusation levelled toward them, since each refers to the preborn child as a baby on many occasions in the references we have provided.
We believe this to be a frivolous complaint stemming from an ideology that appears not to be scientifically, nor factually based. The Criminal Code of Canada defines the pre born as a child and also mentions in the note on 223 (2) “killing child”. Since a child needs to be legally defined as a human being in order for the act to be deemed homicide the correct term would be killing not murder while the Code states what it does currently. Our ad neither stated killing nor murder and we should not be punished by the complainant’s own interpretation of a very clear, accurate and factual message they did not like.
Cambridge Right to Life