I try to stay away from engaging with Youth Defence at the best of times. Anyone I know who has attempted a logical exchange on the matter of the right to choose will find that logic simply doesn’t wash with them. I try to stay away from their Facebook page as too many late night arguments on their comments wall has left me feeling deeply frustrated, upset and harassed.
Bigots will be bigots, and at least on Facebook I have the choice to log off, but each year, their “Pro-Life Roadshow” tours Ireland, accosting the public with misinformation and guilt-trips masked in smiles and apparent goodwill- unless you contradict them that is. And their latest campaign, takes their blatant lies and punishing “morality” one step further because when I’m waiting for a bus or heading into a supermarket, as I was recently, and am faced with the start declaration that “abortion tears a woman’s life apart” I find it impossible to ignore.
These billboards have created quite a stir online, and a large degree of anger and upset. Choice Ireland have issued a press release in response to the campaign in which they state that “The billboards are simply an attempt by anti-abortion groups to impose their own view about that decision.” And “If their concern for women was genuine they would not spend the large costs of these billboards on trying to make women feel bad about the choices they have made.”
I’ve tried that argument with YD and have found that it falls on deaf ears. A comment I saw on a thread stated that only in Ireland would a fanatical group like Youth Defence have the power and money to protest something that is already illegal. And that is one part of the problem- the need for balanced debate is not being catered for in any formal way with consistent governments shying away from tackling the need for legislation.
The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) states that it only covers commercial ads and that this is outside their remit but an informal campaign has been launched on feminist pages, encouraging people offended to complain directly to the advertisers involved. This recent attack on women’s rights has unfortunately also shown once again how shrewd and organised the anti-choice movement is. To combat is we need to organise as well, and this debacle has for one thing, perhaps stirred up the anger and will necessary to do so.
Siren Magazine have a great page here with links to advertisers social media pages, email addresses, telephone numbers and a template of a letter for those who wish to complain http://tinyurl.com/7ry86dw
You can also follow the debate on twitter @Siren_Magazine