ASA throw out attempt to shut down criticism of NZ Govt’s plan to introduce abortion up to birth for Down’s syndrome

The New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has thrown out a complaint against Right To Life UK.

The complaint appears to have been made by Young Labour’s Senior Executive Secretary and Labour Party youth camp organiser Tess Macintyre.

In September 2019, Right To Life UK ran a news article on its website covering opposition from parents of children with Down’s syndrome to proposed changes to New Zealand abortion legislation that also outlined how the proposed law change would introduce abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome. This article was also posted on the organisation’s Facebook page.

The complainant, T Macintyre, claimed that the Facebook post presented  “a false claim that the Prime Minister of New Zealand is attempting to legalise abortion up to birth for foetuses with Down syndrome.” 

The Advertising Standards Authority has now thrown out the complaint. 

In their decision, the ASA ruled that the Facebook post was not misleading with the Chair commenting: “taking into account the context, medium and likely audience, the advocacy advertisement did not breach Principle 2 or Rule 2(b) of the Advertising Standards Code.”

Principle 2 of the Advertising Standards Code outlines that, “Advertisements must be truthful, balanced and not misleading.” Rule 2 outlines that, “Advertisements must not mislead or be likely to mislead, deceive or confuse consumers, abuse their trust or exploit their lack of knowledge.”

The Chair also said that “political advertisements were not only acceptable but encouraged, as they are an essential and desirable part of the functioning of a democratic society” and that “in a free and democratic society, differences of political opinion should be openly debated without undue hindrance or interference from authorities.”

Background on the proposed change to abortion law

In New Zealand, under section 187A of the Crimes Act, there is currently a gestational time limit of 20-weeks for disability-selective abortions. 

Under the proposed legislation (Abortion Legislation Bill), the 20-week gestational time limit for disability-selective abortions will be removed. Abortions will be available right through to birth, providing one registered health practitioner “reasonably believes that the abortion is appropriate in the circumstances” outlined in part one, clause seven of the bill

In the jurisdictions that have a similar clause allowing for abortion up to birth, this has in practice allowed for disability-selective abortions, for conditions including Down’s syndrome, right through to birth.

In fact, the proposed New Zealand legislation only requires one registered health practitioner to decide that the abortion meets these grounds. This could include a single nurse signing off on an abortion, rather than the higher threshold of two doctors, which is the case in Victoria, Australia which has a similar abortion up to birth clause. There have been over 1,600 abortions of babies with a disability under a similar abortion up to birth clause in Victoria, Australia, since the law was changed in 2008.

In 2017, disability campaigners highlighted their concerns around Jacinda Ardern’s pledge to change abortion laws, outlining that this would introduce abortion through to birth for unborn babies with disabilities. 

In response, Jacinda Ardern made a commitment to not increase the time limit for disability-selective abortion. In response to the concern raised by the campaigners, Jacinda Ardern said: “They have said till 40 weeks, which is wrong, which is wrong. We have time periods already set out in law, I’m not proposing changes to that. I’m proposing it comes out of the Crimes Act.”

Jacinda Ardern and her Government now appear to have broken that promise.

Already the majority of babies in New Zealand diagnosed with Down’s syndrome are aborted. If this proposed policy became law it could put New Zealand on the path towards the situation in Iceland where close to 100% of babies diagnosed with Down’s syndrome are aborted.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK Catherine Robinson said:

“The NZ Labour Party needs to stand up and justify why they want to legalise abortion for babies with disabilities including cleft lip, club foot and Down’s syndrome right through to birth. They need to stop trying to shut down debate on this important issue. 

The article we published was completely factual and provided an accurate outline of the proposed changes to abortion law in New Zealand in relation to disability-selective abortions. All references to the proposed legal changes were checked and the final article was signed-off by our policy team before it was published.

Currently, there is a 20-week time limit for disability-selective abortions in New Zealand law. The proposed legislation will see this time limit removed and abortion will be available up until birth, with the approval of a single registered health practitioner. 

In the jurisdictions that have a similar clause, this has in practice allowed for abortion for disabilities including Down’s syndrome right up to birth. In fact, there have been over 1,600 late-term abortions of babies with a disability under a similar abortion up-to-birth clause in Victoria, Australia, since the law was changed in 2008. This has been under a stricter law in Victoria where a higher threshold of two doctors is required to approve a late-term abortion.

New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, made a clear promise to the disability community to not remove the current 20-week time limit for disability-selective abortions. She has broken this promise. Her party supporters should not resort to attempting to shut down anyone who attempts to highlight this broken promise and the impact it will have on the community of people with Down’s syndrome in New Zealand.

We are glad to see that the Advertising Standards Authority have thrown out this complaint. They have not only ruled that our article was not misleading but have gone on to say that in a free and democratic society, differences of political opinion should be openly debated without undue hindrance or interference from authorities. We totally agree with that statement.”

Press release – ASA throw out attempt to shut down criticism of NZ Govt’s plan to introduce abortion up to birth for Down syndrome

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ASA throw out attempt to shut down criticism of NZ Govt’s plan to introduce abortion up to birth for Down syndrome

The New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has thrown out a complaint against Right To Life UK.

The complaint appears to have been made by Young Labour’s Senior Executive Secretary and Labour Party youth camp organiser Tess Macintyre.

In September 2019, Right To Life UK ran a news article on its website covering opposition from parents of children with Down’s syndrome to proposed changes to New Zealand abortion legislation that also outlined how the proposed law change would introduce abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome. This article was also posted on the organisation’s Facebook page.

The complainant, T Macintyre, claimed that the Facebook post presented  “a false claim that the Prime Minister of New Zealand is attempting to legalise abortion up to birth for foetuses with Down syndrome.” 

The Advertising Standards Authority has now thrown out the complaint. 

In their decision, the ASA ruled that the Facebook post was not misleading with the Chair commenting: “taking into account the context, medium and likely audience, the advocacy advertisement did not breach Principle 2 or Rule 2(b) of the Advertising Standards Code.”

Principle 2 of the Advertising Standards Code outlines that, “Advertisements must be truthful, balanced and not misleading.” Rule 2 outlines that, “Advertisements must not mislead or be likely to mislead, deceive or confuse consumers, abuse their trust or exploit their lack of knowledge.”

The Chair also said that “political advertisements were not only acceptable but encouraged, as they are an essential and desirable part of the functioning of a democratic society” and that “in a free and democratic society, differences of political opinion should be openly debated without undue hindrance or interference from authorities.”

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK Catherine Robinson said:

“The NZ Labour Party needs to stand up and justify why they want to legalise abortion for babies with disabilities including cleft lip, club foot and Down’s syndrome right through to birth. They need to stop trying to shut down debate on this important issue. 

The article we published was completely factual and provided an accurate outline of the proposed changes to abortion law in New Zealand in relation to disability-selective abortions. All references to the proposed legal changes were checked and the final article was signed-off by our policy team before it was published.

Currently, there is a 20-week time limit for disability-selective abortions in New Zealand law. The proposed legislation will see this time limit removed and abortion will be available up until birth, with the approval of a single registered health practitioner. 

In the jurisdictions that have a similar clause, this has in practice allowed for abortion for disabilities including Down’s syndrome right up to birth. In fact, there have been over 1,600 late-term abortions of babies with a disability under a similar abortion up-to-birth clause in Victoria, Australia, since the law was changed in 2008. This has been under a stricter law in Victoria where a higher threshold of two doctors is required to approve a late-term abortion.

New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, made a clear promise to the disability community to not remove the current 20-week time limit for disability-selective abortions. She has broken this promise. Her party supporters should not resort to attempting to shut down anyone who attempts to highlight this broken promise and the impact it will have on the community of people with Down syndrome in New Zealand.

We are glad to see that the Advertising Standards Authority have thrown out this complaint. They have not only ruled that our article was not misleading but have gone on to say that in a free and democratic society, differences of political opinion should be openly debated without undue hindrance or interference from authorities. We totally agree with that statement.”

ENDS

Background on the proposed change to abortion law

  • In New Zealand, under section 187A of the Crimes Act, there is currently a gestational time limit of 20-weeks for disability-selective abortions. 
  • Under the proposed legislation (Abortion Legislation Bill), the 20-week gestational time limit for disability-selective abortions will be removed. Abortions will be available right through to birth, providing one registered health practitioner “reasonably believes that the abortion is appropriate in the circumstances” outlined in part one, clause seven of the bill
  • In the jurisdictions that have a similar clause allowing for abortion up to birth, this has in practice allowed for disability-selective abortions, for conditions including Down syndrome, right through to birth.
  • In fact, the proposed New Zealand legislation only requires one registered health practitioner to decide that the abortion meets these grounds. This could include a single nurse signing off on an abortion, rather than the higher threshold of two doctors, which is the case in Victoria, Australia which has a similar abortion up to birth clause. There have been over 1,600 abortions of babies with a disability under a similar abortion up to birth clause in Victoria, Australia, since the law was changed in 2008.
  • In 2017, disability campaigners highlighted their concerns around Jacinda Ardern’s pledge to change abortion laws, outlining that this would introduce abortion through to birth for unborn babies with disabilities. 
  • In response, Jacinda Ardern made a commitment to not increase the time limit for disability-selective abortion. In response to the concern raised by the campaigners, Jacinda Ardern said: “They have said till 40 weeks, which is wrong, which is wrong. We have time periods already set out in law, I’m not proposing changes to that. I’m proposing it comes out of the Crimes Act.”
  • Jacinda Ardern and her Government now appear to have broken that promise.
  • Already the majority of babies in New Zealand diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. If this proposed policy became law it could put New Zealand on the path towards the situation in Iceland where close to 100% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted.

LibDem MP candidate who opposed sex-selective abortion deselected for wrong ‘values’

The Liberal Democrats have deselected former Stoke-on-Trent South MP, Rob Fello, over his wrong ‘values’ just 36 hours after his candidacy was announced.

The former Labour MP represented the people of Stoke South for 12 years. 

During his time in Parliament, Mr Flello voted to give woman considering abortion a legal right to independent counselling from a source that has no financial interest in her decision and supported an amendment to ban sex-selective abortion. He also voted against introducing assisted suicide and a bill that would have introduced abortion for any reason up to birth in the UK. 

Polling from BBC pollster ComRes shows that the vast majority of women agree with Mr Flello on his positions on abortion and that these are not fringe positions to take.

The polling, which was one of the most extensive UK polls done on abortion, shows that 91% of women agree that gender-selective abortion should be explicitly banned by the law and 93% of women agree that a woman considering abortion should have a legal right to independent counselling from a source that has no financial interest in her decision. Only 1% support of women support introducing abortion up to birth. The polling also showed similarly strong support for these positions from Liberal Democrat voters.

330 MPs joined Rob Flello in opposing a Bill to introduce assisted suicide, many of whom were Liberal Democrat MPs. Only 118 MPs supported that Bill which was voted down at second reading.

Mr Flello is also well known for his extensive work on animal welfare.

Mr Flello, the owner of rescued german shepherd dog Diesel, introduced a parliamentary debate which backed the creation of a Code of Practice for dog breeding to strengthen the Animal Welfare Act and has called for action to stop an annual dog meat festival in south-west China. He also chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dog Welfare

During his time in Parliament, Mr Flello was also a shadow minister for Justice and chaired both the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Adult and Childhood Obesity. He has also held positions on the Science and Technology Select Committee and the Transport Select Committee, among others. 

Before becoming an MP, Mr Flello was the chief executive officer for a charity that supports parents, carers, young people and professionals in schools through a range of counselling. 

The Liberal Democrats intolerance of pro-life views is not likely to go down well in London target seats where they are expecting to get their most gains. Recent polling shows that over 41% of Londoners believe abortion should be illegal in almost all circumstances. This is more than 10% higher than the nation as a whole of which 31% agreed with the statement. 

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said:

“We do our best to screen candidates in our approval process. In this case it only became clear over the past few days how greatly his values diverge from ours.”

Rob Flello said the following in a statement:

“I feel utterly misled by the Lib Dem Party who claim in their constitution to acknowledge and respect the right to freedom of conscience.

Not only do I feel betrayed by the false promises of the Lib Dems but I am profoundly concerned that people of faith who adhere to their religious beliefs are not welcome in their Party.”

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said:

“We are now calling on the Liberal Democrats to declare whether there is a place for candidates who oppose sex-selective abortion and abortion up to birth in their party? How many LibDem MPs who voted with Rob Flello to oppose abortion up to birth and ban sex-selective abortion will be deselected for their wrong ‘values? These are not fringe viewpoints. These are views that polling shows the vast majority of the public and the vast majority of Liberal Democrat voters hold.” 

In 1992, Lord David Alton announced that he would not stand again as a Liberal Democrat candidate following the party’s decision to make abortion a policy issue rather than a matter of conscience. Lord Alton, who has spent over 40 years tirelessly championing the pro-life cause in parliament, was the youngest Member of Parliament, aged 28, when he was elected for the Liberal Party in 1979.

Press release – LibDem MP candidate who opposed sex-selective abortion deselected for wrong ‘values’

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LibDem MP candidate who opposed sex-selective abortion deselected for wrong ‘values’

Right To Life UK are calling on the Liberal Democrats to declare whether there is a place for candidates who oppose sex-selective abortion in their party, following former Stoke-on-Trent South MP, Rob Fello, being deselected as a candidate for having the wrong ‘values’. 

During his 12-years as MP, Rob Flello voted on three bills or amendments relating to abortion. Polling shows his positions on each of these issues are supported by the vast majority of women.

  • September 2011 – Supported a bill to give woman considering abortion a legal right to independent counselling from a source that has no financial interest in her decision.
  • February 2015 – Supported an amendment to ban sex-selective abortion.
  • March 2017 – Opposed a bill to introduce abortion on demand, for any reason, up to birth to the UK.
    • Polling shows only 1% support of the population support introducing abortion up to birth.

Rob Flello also opposed the introduction of assisted suicide to the UK. In 2015, 330 MPs joined Rob Flello in opposing a Bill to introduce assisted suicide, many of whom were Liberal Democrat MPs. Only 118 MPs supported that Bill which was voted down at second reading.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK Catherine Robinson said:

“We are now calling on the Liberal Democrats to declare whether there is a place for candidates who oppose sex-selective abortion and abortion up to birth in their party? How many LibDem MPs who voted with Rob Flello to oppose abortion up to birth and ban sex-selective abortion will be deselected for their wrong ‘values? These are not fringe viewpoints. These are views that polling shows the vast majority of the public and the vast majority of Liberal Democrat voters hold. 

ENDS

ComRes interviewed 2,008 British adults online between 12th and 14th May 2017. Data was weighted to be representative of all GB adults. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables are here: https://www.comresglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Where-Do-They-Stand-Abortion-Survey-Data-Tables.pdf