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Defacement of Anti-Choice BART Ads Tied to Indybay in Corporate Press
Some supporters of abortion rights have called BART to complain about the ads and demand their removal. The political Web site www.indybay.org urged activists to call BART and members of its Board of Directors to register their discontent. http://www.indybay.org/archives/archive_by_id.php?id=4023&category_id=31
Anti-abortion ad on BART angers activists
Many placards have been defaced or destroyed
Michael Cabanatuan, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, January 13, 2006
Bay Area abortion-rights activists say a Roman Catholic group's advertisements on hundreds of BART trains and in scores of stations -- attacking the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision and asking "Abortion: Have we gone too far?" -- have gone too far in a region known for its progressive politics.
Many of the ads have been torn down or defaced since the campaign began three weeks ago.
"I think every woman has noticed them,'' said Suzanne "Sam" Joi, a member of Code Pink, a social justice and anti-war group. "I couldn't believe BART would allow something like this. Why are they doing this?''
The ads began appearing in BART trains and stations the day after Christmas. According to BART spokesman Linton Johnson, 280 of them appear in BART's rail cars and 48 larger versions are displayed in stations. The Respect Life Ministry of the Oakland Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church paid $43,200 for the ads, scheduled for display through the end of the month.
BART officials say they had little choice but to post the ads, given the free-speech provisions of the First Amendment. The transit district also has a policy of accepting point-of-view advertising and has displayed other political material -- including advertising from its employee unions during last year's contract talks.
"We're not in the business of censorship and don't believe a government agency should be in the business of censorship,'' Johnson said. "It shouldn't be up to a government official to determine whose opinion is right and whose is wrong.''
Many public transportation agencies allow political or point-of-view advertising on their systems, including Muni, which is displaying anti-war ads.
Some supporters of abortion rights have called BART to complain about the ads and demand their removal. The political Web site http://www.indybay.org urged activists to call BART and members of its Board of Directors to register their discontent. As of Thursday, the transit agency had received 29 complaints, Johnson said.
Critics of the ads also seem to be taking matters into their own hands. Hundreds of the ads have been defaced with markers, had stickers placed over them or have been torn down and ripped up, according to Monika Rodman, coordinator of the group that placed the ads.
"The defacement has taken to religious epithets, profanity, everything you can think of,'' she said. A billboard at the MacArthur station in Oakland was torn to shreds, she said, and mini essays were written on others.
So many of the ads have been destroyed, she said, that a supply of a couple of dozen extras has been exhausted, and the ministry has ordered reinforcements from its printer. The group, which funded the campaign through donations, according to Rodman, is also asking BART's ad agency, CBS Outdoor (formerly Viacom Outdoor), for extra display time to compensate for the vandalism.
The campaign features two ads, each slickly produced and featuring a blurry photograph of a woman against a turquoise background. One ad, headlined "9 months" in large letters, features nine months of a calendar and reads: "Because of Roe vs. Wade, this is the amount of time the Supreme Court says it's legal to have an abortion."
The other contains the message: "The Supreme Court says you can choose: after the heart starts beating, after its arms and legs appear, after all organs are present, after the sex is apparent, after it sucks its thumb, after it responds to sounds, after it could survive outside the womb.''
Both ads conclude with the tagline "Abortion: Have we gone too far?'' and the name and Web site address (http://www.secondlookproject.org) for the Second Look Project, an effort sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which created the campaign and unveiled it on Washington's Metro subway system a year ago.
"It was clear that these eye-catching graphics and thought-provoking messages could serve as an effective pro-life educational tool in our area, too," Rodman said. She said she had tested the ads on female employees of local cafes and was emboldened by their positive responses.
Abortion-rights activists are responding differently, calling the ads misleading, manipulative and part of an effort to undermine the pro-choice movement in the Bay Area.
"They're calling for the overturn of Roe vs. Wade, which will lead to the slaughter of women,'' said Elizabeth Creely of the Bay Area Coalition for Our Reproductive Rights, referring to fears of unsafe, back-alley abortions if the procedure were illegal. "The Catholic Church is very strong here and is working hard to erode reproductive rights.''
Some backers of abortion rights think BART should have rejected the ads, while others say BART should have warned pro-choice groups that the ads were about to appear and offered them a chance to run their own ad campaign.
"At the very least they should have made sure both sides were represented,'' Joi said.
In mid-December, anticipating controversy, BART put out a passenger bulletin explaining its advertising policy. BART may consider revising the policy this year to prohibit point-of-view advertising, Johnson said.
"But that could have a lot of implications -- like no political ads (for candidates or ballot measures),'' he said.
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BART Anti-Abortion Ads Stir Controversy; Signs Vandalized
"Meanwhile, the political Web site indybay.org was urging activists to call BART to complain."
BART Anti-Abortion Ads Stir Controversy; Signs Vandalized
POSTED: 8:06 am PST January 13, 2006
UPDATED: 8:25 am PST January 13, 2006
OAKLAND -- Anti-abortion ads sponsored by the Oakland Roman Catholic Diocese posted in BART stations and placed on trains have stirred up a free speech controversy with many of the signs being vandalized.
BART officials say they had no choice but to post the ads -- with the line: "Abortion: Have we gone too far?'' -- after the diocese paid $43,200 to the agency because of the free-speech provisions of the First Amendment.
"We're not in the business of censorship," said BART spokesman Linton Johnson. "It is not up to a government official to determine whose opinion is right and whose is wrong.''
Many BART riders agreed during Friday's commute.
"I think it's free speech and I'm pro-choice," BART commuter Heather Williams told KTVU Friday morning. "They have the right to put the ads up and have their viewpoint out there."
But the ads -- with 280 posted on BART cars and 48 larger versions in stations -- have enraged freedom of choice advocates.
"I think every woman has noticed them,'' Suzanne "Sam" Joi, a member of Code Pink, a social justice and anti-war group, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I couldn't believe BART would allow something like this. Why are they doing this?''
Johnson said as of Thursday the agency has gotten 29 complaints about the ads which are scheduled to run until the end of the month. Meanwhile, the political Web site indybay.org was urging activists to call BART to complain.
While the complaints have not bothered officials, the vandalism has. Hundreds of the ads have been defaced with graffiti and stickers. Others have been ripped or torn down.
"The defacement has taken to religious epithets, profanity, everything you can think of,'' Monika Rodman, coordinator of the group that placed the ads told the Chronicle.
BART said it would catch the vandals since trains are equipped with video cameras and are patrolled by transit police.
(KTVU has web video of TV report on vandalism)
BART Ads Spur Debate, and more corporate reports on Indybay
Not to be left out, ABC is in on the action. They did a decent job in pointing out that the ads "attack" pro-choice activists. Local pro-choice activists can pat themselves on the back because "No other region in the United States has reacted to these (national) ads the way the Bay Area has." They bothered to interview someone with a viewpoint other than that of BART or the Catholics: "Pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood say the ads are misleading."
"One political Web site Indybay.org is urging pro-choice activists to complain to BART about the ads." (Cue video of mob with pitchforks and torches.) And ABC picked up on the ridiculous Catholic League news release that was revealed here earlier today.
BART's spokesperson: "It's a small number of complaints, but now that the media is making a big deal about this, I'm sure that we're now going to get a lot more, both, complaints and compliments."
Compliments from who, the Catholic League?
BART Ads Spur Debate
By Lyanne Melendez
Jan. 13 - KGO - BART officials say they will continue to post two controversial ads that attack pro-choice activists.
It's part of a national campaign by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as a way to re-introduce the anti-abortion message. No other region in the United States has reacted to these ads the way the Bay Area has.
For the past month, BART commuters have seen anti-abortion ads as they ride to and from work. The message has irked some. One ad shows the headline "Nine months," claiming this is the amount of time the Supreme Court allows abortions to take place.
Pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood say the ads are misleading.
Amy Moy, Planned Parenthood: "We are offended in the sense that we don't believe it's right to mislead the public and these ads are truly misleading. Under California state law you can only have late-term abortions when a woman's health or life are at risk."
The ads were paid for by the Respect Life Ministry of the Oakland Diocese. They paid $43,000 to have the ads posted for a month.
Linton Johnson, BART spokesperson: "Well, these are point of view ads and I don't think the government, especially BART, has any right to censor people's point of view, regardless of what we think of that point of view."
BART's spokesperson says there have been only 29 complaints so far.
Linton Johnson: "It's a small number of complaints, but now that the media is making a big deal about this, I'm sure that we're now going to get a lot more, both, complaints and compliments."
One political Web site Indybay.org is urging pro-choice activists to complain to BART about the ads.
BART confirmed some of them have been defaced with graffiti or have been taken down. That prompted the religious group Catholic League to issue a news release headlined "Pro-life message anger Bay Area loons."
Kiera McCaffrey, Catholic League: "The diocese paid for this advertising space, and then you get some thugs who come and rip it down and vandalize and draw profanities and anti-Catholic screeds on them. Calling them loons is really going to hurt their feelings? I don't think so."
There are 280 smaller ads inside the trains at different BART stations. A BART official says they welcome these so-called point of view ads because they bring in revenue and that keeps your fares down.
Canadian "Judeo-Christian" LifeSite.com chimes in, with Indybay as "pro-abortion"
Monday January 16, 2006
Abortion Activists Vandalize San Francisco Pro-Life Subway Advertisements
By Terry Vanderheyden
SAN FRANCISCO, January 16, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Roman Catholic group that has been running a pro-life ad campaign on the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) has had so many of its signs vandalised that it has gone through all the extra signs that were made, and has even resorted to printing more.
Created by The Second Look Project, http://www.secondlookproject.org/, which operates under the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the ad campaign was sponsored locally by the Archdiocese of San Francisco. The aim of the ads, according to Second Look, is to educate the average person about little-known facts about abortion.
Oakland Diocese’ Respect Life Ministry paid $43,200 for the ads, which first appeared December 26 and are scheduled to appear through the end of January. Two hundred and eighty ads appear in BART rail cars while 48 larger versions can be seen in stations. BART spokesman, Linton Johnson, under fire from pro-abortion groups for allowing the advertising, said they cannot refuse the paid advertising given free-speech provisions of the First Amendment.
“We’re not in the business of censorship and don’t believe a government agency should be in the business of censorship,” said Johnson, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report. “It shouldn’t be up to a government official to determine whose opinion is right and whose is wrong.”
Second Look Project’s web site explains the purpose of the campaign: “While abortion has been legal in the US for three decades, polls continue to show that people do not have very basic information about abortion, such as when during pregnancy it is legal, or why it is generally performed. The Second Look Project offers information to help people make informed decisions based on fact rather than emotion.”
One of two ads states, “9 months . . . Because of Roe v. Wade, this is the amount of TIME the U.S. Supreme Court says it is legal to have an abortion.” A second ad states, “The Supreme Court says you CAN choose: After the heart starts beating; After its arms and legs appear; After all organs are present; After the sex is apparent; After it sucks its thumb; After it responds to sounds; and After it could survive outside the womb.” The ads conclude with the question: “Abortion. Have we gone too far?”
“Three decades after Roe v. Wade, many people still do not understand basic facts about legal abortion – like the fact that abortion is legal through all nine months of pregnancy,” explained Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., Director of Planning and Information for the Pro-Life Secretariat at the USCCB, at the launch of the campaign last year. Second Look’s ads first appeared a year ago in the Washington, D.C., metro system.
Pro-abortion activists, such as http://www.indybay.org, have campaigned to have the ads removed. Johnson told the Chronicle that as of Thursday, they had received 29 complaints.
Bay Area Rapid Transit
District P.O. Box 12688
Oakland CA 94604-2688
Or e-mail at: http://www.bart.gov/guide/overview/riderFeedback.asp
Contact the local sponsor, the San Francisco Archdiocese, at:
Archdiocese of San Francisco
One Peter Yorke Way
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 614-5658 FAX
jansenm [at] sfarchdiocese.org