The Manitoba Committee on Unplanned Pregnancy was formed in June of 1985 and is a coalition of six organizations, all of whom support abortion, one of the most notable being Planned Parenthood Manitoba.
The Committee, instituted to address the issue of adolescent unplanned pregnancies, developed a slick campaign, well-funded by the provincial government. Planned Parenthood was given $40,000 to establish a 24-hour hot-line to advise teens, and the Committee received $15,000 to place ads on buses, radio, television and in newspapers.
Ad draws fire
The advertising campaign was based on the standard, fallacious notion common to groups such as Planned Parenthood, that if teens are given contraceptive information and access, the problem of unplanned pregnancies will be diminished.
The catchy ads which were geared to sexually active teens, created the impression that to be “with it” one had to be sexually active, and indeed, that most teens were sexually active. Implicit in the ads was the notion that sexual activity was acceptable as long as you used contraception.
The ads engendered strong protest and criticism from the League for Life in Manitoba who insisted that the campaign would encourage rather than discourage sexual activity among teens, thereby exacerbating the problem of unplanned pregnancies.
Teens who were not sexually active would be persuaded there was something wrong with them. In addition, the ads would foster the other, equally serious problems associated with teenage sexual activity: increased venereal disease, cervical cancer, infertility, to say nothing of the greater guilt and heartache.
As a result of the controversy, fuelled by the League and a number of concerned parents, the CBC in Manitoba refused to run the ads although some were carried by other local stations.
In July of this year, the Committee on Unplanned Pregnancy launched a new media campaign. While this is not an endorsement, in fairness it must be stated that the new campaign has a distinctly different emphasis.
Spokesperson Madeline Boscoe stated that the new campaign was aimed at giving support to teens who are not sexually active! Some of the messages, she said, are specifically designed to encourage abstinence and to feel good about it.
While they have been slow learners, could it be that at least some groups are beginning to see the fundamental contradiction created by messages which purport to discourage adolescent sexual activity while promoting contraception?
One can only hope and pray, and continue to protest against the contradictory message which fail to recognize that the best oral contraceptive is “NO.” It is 100 per cent effective, has no harmful side effects and allows adolescent to feel great about themselves.