Truth in Advertising? Not From Human Life Alliance


This article introduces a series on an advertising supplement being sold by Minneapolis-based Human Life Alliance to colleges and universities. In each piece, Robin Marty, RH Reality Check Contributing Editor, will examine one in the series of ads for misleading, dangerous and outrageous information.

For yet another example that you can’t always trust what you read, it appears that a pro-life group in the Midwest is paying student newspapers to accept an “advertising supplement” that actually consists of a misleading, factually inaccurate descriptions of abortions. Some schools in the region are rejecting these paid supplements. However, others are accepting them, and their students are outraged.

Human Life Alliance, a self-identified non-profit, non-denominational, pro-life organization located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has been running their Icare "advertising supplements" for 14 years according to their website. Their target has been high school and college campuses across the country, claiming to have distributed over 30 million copies of their pro-life magazine.

But students have been vocal in reacting to the publication, which is being distributed inside some campus newspapers. Their major complaint? Icare’s articles are misleading and often factually inaccurate, and newspapers, who are being paid to distribute the supplement, see no reason to add a correction.

From an editorial in Student Voice, a publication of the University of Wisconsin, River Falls:

The purported “Advertising Supplement” featured medically inaccurate descriptions of abortion care and the same ideologically driven conflation of birth control and abortion that has jeopardized access to birth control for college students and rape victims throughout Wisconsin.

According to Human Life Alliance (HLA) distribution coordinator Jillian Roemer and Virginia Zignego, communications director for PLW, Pro-Life Wisconsin reimbursed HLA the $570 fee for the insert, as well as additional overhead costs to cover the printing and shipping of the inserts. These inserts, which were characterized by Pro-Life Wisconsin as “educational inserts” of “solid pro-life content,” are intentionally designated as “Advertising Supplements” on each page so student newspapers will distribute PLW propaganda, according to Roemer.

Shame on HLA and PLW for using such calculated maneuvers to spread their rag on UW-River Falls. And editor, shame on you too for not taking the time to think about what exactly is being “advertised” by the so-called “Advertising Supplements” you choose to accept.

Nothing was being advertised here; instead, you contributed to the dissemination of 12-page tasteless booklets of disinformation designed to denigrate and shame women who receive abortion care.

According to Human Life Alliance, the Icare advertising supplement is an "updated" version of their original publication She’s A Child, Not A "Choice." In 1996, students from Rice University in Texas complained about a similar supplement published by the same group.

Based on the complaint of the Rice students, it’s clear that very little has changed when comparing the 1996 and current 2008 versions of the supplement.

For example, both editions claim:

  • that abortion causes breast cancer;
  • birth control pills only suppress ovulation 50% of the time; and
  • rape victims would feel they "conquered" their attack/rape if they carried their child to term and gave birth to it.

 

The articles in Icare range from factually inaccurate to outright outrageous. In this upcoming series we will look at individual pieces within the supplement, fact-checking the claims and presenting the more egregious of the arguments for life at all cost presented by the Human Life Alliance.

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  • fishwithoutabike

    I am the President of Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance at Stony Brook University. I was already gearing up to start a petition and informational campaign on campus about the CPCs which advertise weekly in the SB student newspaper when they paid to have the "iCare" propaganda placed into the center of every copy of our newspaper. I have since gotten 165 petition signatures to have all CPC advertising kicked out of this newspaper, and had 3 articles written in other campus newspaper and blogs about my petition. Last week, the organization responsible for paying the advertising fee wrote this letter to one of the campus newspapers, personally attacking me: http://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0B33M_mQ-I2s0NDU3ZjA3OWYtYTZjZS00ZjhkLWJiYzEtOTE1M2Y3MWFmNmU3&hl=enI don’t know about other campuses, but for Stony Brook the ad was placed by a local organization that bought the actual pamphlets from HLA. Thankfully, the editors of the newspapers who received this letter have allowed me to write a response to be printed together this week. If anyone from another campus would like to discuss my campaign with me or take a look at any of my materials, please do not hesitate to send me a direct message on RH Reality Check or e-mail me at sbstudentscaretoo@gmail.com. I have a petition letter, a fact sheet disproving many of the false, misleading and sensational information in the ad, as well as a compilation of other helpful Guttmacher fact sheets. FYI: Our petition was just handed in this week, and we have not heard yet from the editorial staff of the newspaper who carried the ad.

  • kate-ranieri

    The amount of misinformation and outright lies from prolife literature, web sites, videos and members’ general conversations goes uncontested all too often. Hoorah for your efforts to publicly shut them down and to offer rejoinders.

    At the Allentown Women’s Center in Allentown PA, protesters hand out literature that repeats all of these propaganda tactics you write about. The literature uses inappropriate images that are ethically dishonest, gestationally inaccurate and morally repugnant to the general public. But as the saying goes, If you tell it often enough it becomes truth.

  • prochoicegoth

    You know, if the pro-life position was so right, then why do they have to lie? I’ve yet to see any pro-life literature that can’t be refuted with medical facts. At least the pro-choice position doesn’t have to lie and use scare tactics and disgusting propaganda.