Godbags smacked down: Advertising Standards Bureau

You might remember a discussion on the Cast Iron Balcony about the panty-sniffing godbag scum who recently did a large letter-drop of graphic material advocating forced pregnancy as policy.

The anti-abortion culprits call themselves the “Tell The Truth” coalition. Their website was at tellthetruth dot org dot au, but it seems to be down. They’re also at australianprolifeconference dot blogspot dot com, if you really want to give them the hits. Or you can go to the google cached version, here. [Masses of triggers, verbal and pictorial.]

It seems that TTTC were panicked at the moves afoot in Victoria to grant women protection from being slammed in jail for exercising bodily autonomy. The report of the Victorian Law Reform Commission on the decriminalisation of abortion should be tabled and publicly available any minute now. (Anyone got an update on that?)

Well, a lot of people complained, and the Advertising Standards Bureau has upheld their complaint. They’ve upheld it because the images might cause mental distress to women and children, instead of upholding it because it is hate speech against women (on account of it advocates theocratic biological slavery and all), but they’ve upheld it.

You can download the determination at the Advertising Standards Bureau website here (search for the “Tell The Truth Coalition” link). I’ve included the whole thing after the cut, if you can’t access PDFs.

[h/t richybuchanan]


1. Complaint reference number: 93/08
2. Advertiser: Tell The Truth Coalition
3. Product: Community Awareness
4. Type of advertisement: Print
5. Nature of complaint: Health and safety – section 2.6; Other – Causes alarm and distress
6. Date of determination: Wednesday, 9 April 2008
7. DETERMINATION: Upheld – draft report


This print advertisement for an anti-abortion organisation features graphic photographs of aborted foetuses, details of the development of a foetus , comments from women who have had counselling after abortions, and of health and psychological problems encountered by women who have had abortions.


A sample of comments which the complainant/s made regarding this advertisement included the following:

The images were far too graphic for young people. The images were far too graphic for some adults (eg:those who may have experienced and abortion, miscarriage, pregnancy complications etc) Young children may open the envelope unknowingly (reading the warning may not be posible) There is no choice in receiving the information, it was just delivered.

As it was not obvious on the envelope that graphic images were inside,my 13 yr old Daughter opened the envelope.It was addressed to the adult of the household but like all other junk mail, we receive, the kids are allowed to open it. My Daughter was disgusted, as I was, on looking at the pamphlet.We should not be subjected to such images ,especially when it is sent without our consent. I also do not feel it’s appropriate to be sending info’ on abortions ,photos or not, unless people request it.

The explicit use of images is forced onto everyone who was delievered the letter. The fact that it states ‘view discresion adivised’ only fuels curiosity regarding what the flyer contains. These are images that no-one should be forced to see especially if you have recently suffered a miss carraige, this could cause much distress (sic).

The images are extremely graphic and disturbing. They would cause distress to anyone who has had an abortion or who has suffered a miscarriage. They imply that women who have had abortions are murderers and state that women who undergo abortions suffer a range of mental illnesses and even claim they have a higher risk of breast cancer.

Whilst I support everybody’s right to present political views, I do not support the use of graphic, violent and extremely distressing images in what is essentially a political campaign. I do not believe these images make a constructive contribution to the public debate, yet they risk a very negative impact on some sections of the community who view them.

The extreme graphic content of the ad that was delivered to my house is a complete affront to human decency. Both my partner and I almost vomited upon seeing the images, unaware of what the ad was about as it was delivered in an envelope addressed “to the adult householder”. The ad is highly insensitive. I just hope that no kids opened the mail today and found that.

As a woman, a mother, that had a missed miscarriage at 10 weeks. To see graphic images of fetuses of around the same gestation that are bloody and dismembered is inhumane. No one should have to be reminded of their pain, grief and loss like l am today. And in such and graphic manner (sic).

You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to know that if something is labelled basically…’not for kids’ guess who ends up reading it. It is far too graphic to be sent as unsolicited mail and having opened the letter to be subjected to pictures that are not only unneccessary but objectionable. I object to some organisation’s beliefs being ‘rammed down my throat’ via this very sneaky method of distribution.

I am truly disgusted and shocked that this mailout arrived in my letter box, as I certainly did not ask for this to be forced upon me. It is also amazing that this “organization” believes that they are permitted to distribute, and force such shocking and disgusting material into my private residence, let alone force their political and religious beliefs on me.

This add was to (sic) graphic and offensive especially to women who may have had an abortion for medical purposes.

The infomation is very distressing to adults especially couples who have experienced miscarriages and the infomation is completely inappriopriate especially for children.

It contains offensive, traumatising and graphic colour photos of either aborted or miscarried fetus. These images are available to children who can collect and open the mail at home and are unable to read, or simply did not comprehend the warning on the envelope that stated “viewer discretion advised”… The potential for a traumatic exposure such as this to a small child cannot be allowed for the same reasons that pornography or violence or any extreme exposure is restricted for the protection of children. I am surprised that in the media the perpetrators are said to have justified their method of shock tactics. These hypocrits (sic) say they “protect unborns”, while they potentially harm existing children..they can’t be serious!!

This leaflet not only causes great distress to those who have, or are going to have, an abortion but also brings to the surface the grief and emotions of those many people who have been touched by miscarriages. There may be no logical reason for those touched by miscarriage to feel guilty, but I know from personal experience that the inability to carry a pregnancy to term is a cause of great shame and guilt to many women affected by miscarriage. This advertisement would be accutely distressing to these people. This leaflet aims to cause as much distress as possible to those who don’t believe abortion should be illegal – this is a very emotional and usually religiously based belief. To villify those with different religious beliefs is wrong. The object of the code is that all people be treated decently, even people who don’t agree with the advertiser. This leaflet does not treat those involved with abortion and miscarriage decently.


Comments which the advertiser made in response to the complaint/s regarding this advertisement included the following:

This letterboxing is part of a human rights campaign and to our reading falls completely outside
the jurisdiction of your bureau which is concerned with advertising for profit.


The Advertising Standards Board (“Board”) considered whether this advertisement breaches Section 2 of the Advertiser Code of Ethics (the “Code”).

The Board noted the complaints’ concerns about that the images portrayed in this print advertisement were graphic, frightening and distressing.

The Board viewed the advertisement and agreed that the images were extremely graphic and had the potential to cause alarm and distress. The Board then considered whether the images depicted were in line with prevailing community standards on health and safety.

The Board considered that the content of the advertisement had the potential to affect the mental health of women who have had an abortion or women who are pregnant and not happy with their situation. The images could also impact negatively on the mental health of women who have experienced a miscarriage.

The Board further noted the possibility that the images could be viewed by young people or children
and that this would cause alarm and distress to these viewers.

The Board considered the advertiser’s right to free speech and their right to share their views.
However the Board considered on balance that the images depicted were contrary to prevailing
community standards on health and safety.

Finding that the advertisement breached Section 2.6 of Code, the Board upheld the complaint.


Comments which the advertiser made in response to the determination regarding this advertisement included the following:

No response has been received from the advertiser as at time of printing this report. The matter has been referred to the appropriate government department for action.

Categories: gender & feminism, law & order, Politics


5 replies

  1. Their argument for using the images essentially boils down to “but look at how bloody and horrible it is”.
    All surgery looks bloody and horrible. That’s not a good argument for denying the benefits of surgery to anyone.

  2. Plenty of surgery looks far more bloody and horrible than abortion, actually. I’m thinking a mate’s knee reconstruction and my partner having his arm straightened after it was ‘buckled’ in a work accident. Not. Pretty. At. All.
    To be honest, I sometimes wonder whether this dills ever did high school biology. Dissecting a toad is pretty awful, too.
    Medicine as aesthetics, I guess.
    Sorry for sounding so grouchy but foetus obsessives give me the pip.
    skepticlawyer’s last blog post..Australian luvvies

  3. Ron a panty sniffer? I’ve been following him fairly closely (and been held up by him as a target for abuse) and that’s news to me. Bigot, yes, probably clinically insane, yes (the dude thinks he can remember his conception), but no real evidence for the panty sniffing kind of perversion. Maybe he’s got a new post up about it…
    Anyway, what concerns me is that I can’t find out what happens once a complaint is upheld. The ASB says that it has been forwarded on to the appropriate government department. Anyone know what that department is? What they do? What they CAN do? My suspicion is that they hope we’re satisfied that the complaint has been upheld. I doubt the matter is going to be pursued further 😦
    As the peeps who followed my outrage on Tell the Truth blog will know, my biggest beef was that the pamphlet was factually wrong. Differences of opinion based on faith I can tolerate. Lies I despise.
    Emmas last blog post..…and the Buffy Character… Rupert Giles

  4. Emma, I read some of your stoush with that guy. You are a legend.

  5. Thanks Helen. Big compliment from you!
    I had to stop once I realised that I was one of few people keeping the site alive. I think he still posts to thin air and occasionally I drop in for a swipe when I’m depressed about the going nowhere thesis and need a pick-me-up.
    Might take it up again after July if I get bored 🙂
    Emmas last blog post..…and the Buffy Character… Rupert Giles

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