YOUTH DEFENCE AD
Sir, - Although a Dubliner, I have spent most of my life in England. While living there I became involved in the feminist movement, and I obtained a master's degree in women's studies from the University of Kent at Canterbury.
It is as a feminist that I now write to you. I firmly believe that every woman has a right to be fully informed about all aspects of life. I was horrified, therefore, to read that Mr Michael O'Keefe, chief executive of the IRTC, has written to a number of regional radio stations instructing them not to transmit a radio advertisement sponsored by Youth Defence, on the grounds that the advertisement breached Section 10.3 of the Broadcasting Act. RTE has turned down the advertisement on the same grounds. Section 10.3 of the Broadcasting Act prohibits advertisements which are "directed towards a religious or political end."
The banned advertisement sets out facts of foetal development, opening with the heartbeat of an unborn child. There is nothing in this advertisement that is untrue; neither is the advertisement judgmental or threatening. Moreover, the right to life of the unborn child is already protected by Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution.
Up until now, I have had little time for Youth Defence and have found some of its tactics indefensible. However, this advertising campaign, mounted under the title "Project Truth", is dignified and apolitical and merely states the physical reality of unborn life at eight weeks.
Why are the IRTC and RTE playing nanny to the Irish public? There are already mechanisms in place to enable viewers and listeners to object to advertisements. The suppression of this advertisement appears to me to be a retrograde step, at a time - when I thought Ireland was beginning to treat her women with respect.
While I may not always agree with Youth Defence, I wholeheartedly support its right to proclaim the truth in a factual way. I understand that it will be taking legal action, as there are no legitimate grounds for banning the advertisement under Section 10.3 of the Broadcasting Act. - Yours, etc.,
Ranelagh, Dublin 6.