News / Ottawa

Anti-abortion ads on OC Transpo buses prompt social media outrage

Controversial anti-abortion ads on city buses are once again generating social media furor.

An image posted to Facebook on Friday by Danika Sabourin depicts a anti-abortion advertisement by Action Life Ottawa.

Danika Sabourin/Facebook

An image posted to Facebook on Friday by Danika Sabourin depicts a anti-abortion advertisement by Action Life Ottawa.

Controversial ads on city buses are once again generating social media furor after a photo was posted to Facebook of an ad on the back of an OC Transpo bus that reads “Abortion Stops A Beating Heart.”

The ad does not include any graphic images. Instead, it depicts a red and black heart with the words, “Pregnant? Need help?” accompanied by a number and website for the organization Action Life.

The Ottawa-based group opposes abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research and the use of reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization and pre-natal screening.

A photo of the ad shared on Facebook on March 11 by Algonquin College student Danika Sabourin generated over 220 shares and 68 likes over two days. 

“I am so disgusted,” wrote Sabourin. “How can this post even be allowed on here?”

Local activist and blogger Kayla Spagnoli shared the image on Twitter and asked people to contact OC Transpo because she said she found the campaign insensitive to women.

“I feel like there is a time and a place but I don’t think that is on the back of a bus where it could be triggering or harmful for younger audiences,” said Spagnoli. “Bringing up abortion in that light is not helpful for anyone. It makes it seem very black and white.”

Metro attempted to contact Action Life on Sunday, but was unsuccessful. 

Advertisements on OC Transpo buses are handled by Pattison Outdoor Advertising and must conform to the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards. 

In Peterborough the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform has taken legal action against the city after it was denied permission to advertise anti-abortion messages on the city’s public transit system.

It’s not the first time the appropriateness of controversial ads on OC Transpo has been scrutinized here in Ottawa. 

In 2013, advertising for a 9/11 ‘truther’ campaign upset people with a message that the world trade towers were brought down deliberately by controlled explosives. 

In 2009, an atheist bus campaign that featured the text, “There’s probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life” also generated complaints.