Why This Ad Is Misleading


Members of Youth Defence/Life Institute launching their nationwide anti-abortion campaign earlier this month. From left: Lucy Mc Donald, Niamh Lu Bhriain and Aine O Connell.

Dr David Robert Grimes writes:

“One would require a large sample group over a long period to see whether the women were more likely to have mental issues than those in a control group.That is the methodology used by a group of doctors in Denmark who charted the psychological health of 365,550 women, including 84,620 who had had abortions.

…Essentially these studies found there was no difference in mental health between those who opted for abortion and those who carried to term. Curiously, there was a markedly increased risk to mental health for women who gave a child up for adoption.

A corollary of the research was that while women did not suffer long-term mental health effects due to abortion, short-term guilt and sadness was far more likely if the women had a background where abortion was viewed negatively or their decisions were decried – the kind of attitude fostered by “pro-life” activists.

This leads to the dark irony that while groups of this ilk claim to support women, they increase the suffering of women who have had abortions – the very women they ostensibly claim to help.”

Facts Still Sacred Despite Ireland’s Spectrum Of conflicting Views On Abortion (David Robert Grimes, irish Times)

DavidRobertGrimes.com (twitter: @drg1985)

(Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland)

Meanwhile, On Youth Defence’s Facebook:

The “pro-aborts”.


Thanks Conor


107 thoughts on “Why This Ad Is Misleading

    1. Adam Bass

      Yeah exactly. scumbags killing babies…it’s sickening to think the majority of purely for selfish reasons. Sick!

      1. Rapscallion

        Can you try to articulate that in more lucid English that explains what particular point you’re making? The sense of it sort of tapered off half way through. Hate to have you misinterpreted.

        1. Mr Toast

          Can’t believe they are called “Pro aborts” they are not pro abortion i dont think anybody in their sane mind would be pro abortion, they are pro choice which means like everything else in the world its your choice to use this service nobody is forcing you down to the clinic to rid you of your unborn fetus’ssssss, this is something both sides need to think about, just because i chose to have an abortion doesn’t mean i’m evil or anything like that. The waters are never as clear as they first appear, always murkyness behind everything that gets done.

    1. Brownasaurus Rex

      Hardly lazy, you snarky goon. The Irish Times isn’t prone to direct referencing online. Perhaps it will catch up with competing online systems, like the Guardian’s, but attitude’s like yours add nothing but directionless opinions. So, shurrup.

      1. stevobaggio

        You’re right, I probably could have just linked to it without the snark. Also, thanks for pointing out that I’m a goon – I thought it was very constuctive to your opinion about linking practices in online media.

      2. cluster

        Why aren’t they prone to direct referencing online? Got an explanation beyond laziness?

        1. stevobaggio

          I imagine that the article for both print and online come from the same destination and the adding of any links would lead to an extra step in the process (essentially extra workload), hence why Dr.Grimes (post below) states that the links and references were cut for length. Just a guess…

          1. Dr. David Robert Grimes

            You’ll find them in my blog in the next few days when I get a chance. Newspapers don’t usually link to studies because the vast majority of the readership don’t have access to paywalled academic journals. You will rarely, if ever, see an op ed piece with citations but I will provide these in next few days or to anyone who’s interested if they message me. There’s an old post on my blog with some of the study links if that helps for now!

    2. Dr. David Robert Grimes

      I actually included this study link, and several others which were cut due to length considerations. Also, most people do not have access to academic journals sadly, unless they’re with a research institute.

      1. stevobaggio

        Appreciate the reply and I apologize for the accusation of laziness.

        I do genuinely think that it should be mandatory to post links to research papers referenced in articles (when they are not behind paywalls). It can potentially widen a discussion as well as ensuring transperancy in any reporting. Hopefull the editors at the IT can adopt some kind of policy on this.

        Thanks for the article in the first place.

          1. stevobaggio

            Cheers Doc!

            The situation with paywalled journals is a farce – hopefully though open access journals will continue to pop up and have the same reach as current established journals.

      2. True Kilcockian

        What proportion of abortions carried out on Irishwomen take place in the first trimester?

  1. Micko

    Bunch of self righteous religious assholes. Telling people what they can or can’t do with their own bodies.

    1. Pedanto

      Sometimes people’s bodies have other people’s bodies inside them. Complex, isn’t it?

      1. VinLieger

        Yes its actually an incredibly complex issue, but youth offence like to boil it down to “were right and your wrong” and then shout till everyone else gives up in frustration over their pig headed ignorance

        1. Pedanto

          Neither side makes much attempt to frame a debate in terms the others can understand, I’m afraid.

          1. Pedanto

            Empathy like, um, attempting to understand the perspective of people I disagree with?

        2. bahbah

          In reference to the term “Youth Offence”, can we not start doing the American thing of taking the name of things we disagree with and changing it into some random pun that doesn’t make any sense? (eg. USSA, Barack Osama, Feminazi etc etc) I’d really appreciate it.

  2. Fill3rup

    I am in favour of retrospective abortion,starting with all members of Youth Defence..

    There is not a better way,that i can think of.

    1. FatherKurtFahrt

      Precisely. As an added bonus, I believe this action would improve the mental health of the ladies that YD are so worried about.

  3. Clampers Outside

    Is anyone else blocked from commenting on the Youth Defence Facebook page? I posted there a couple of days ago and the comment was deleted, now I can’t comment at all.

    I said nothing offensive only that their posters were misleading and without any proof for the claims.

    I wanted to post the good doctors quote above on their page. Sure, maybe someone on here can copy and paste it in :)

    1. Leela2011

      it’s getting nasty over there at the mo. mine is still there but I just addressed that I would like right to complain about their and similar posters to the ASAI…. bringing it back to the actual topic of that post about Bacik. some really delusional people supporting them. it’s insulting that they believe pro-choice people want to abort babies up to birth…..ARRRGHHHH!!! Think I’ll have to stop reading it or I’ll burst! :)

      1. Clampers Outside

        True. I felt the same Leela, the air of arrogance in their posts is horrible and their mockery of those that disagree with them is very sad indeed. Definitely a delusional bunch.

        1. Gogol

          I’ve been blocked from plenty of FB’s for asking questions, respectful questions, honest questions. No bad language, no nonsense, just honest questions. FG, Enda Kenny and others.

    2. marcA

      Good to see YD are offering everyone the same right to ‘free speech’… by just deleting comments they don’t agree with.

      It would do more for ‘their cause’ to leave up the comments and let everyone read their educated rebuttals. Someday maybe.

    3. Jay

      They likely remove any comments not in agreement… I was looking myself for opposition in their various posts but nothing to see….

  4. Miles

    And are we surprised to find that the Eminence Grise of Youth Defence is none other than our beloved and very masculine Senator Ronan Mullen…

  5. Jockstrap

    Not to be confused with ‘Yute Defence’ in Australia who campaign for the protection of open backed pick ups based in popular saloon car models.

    1. Pedanto

      Or Yootha Defence, who used to walk Mildred to her dressing room to ward off the lustful advances of George.

      (I’m old.)

      1. mickmick

        George and Mildred actualy. It’s a reference to Yootha Joyce. Long before your time me lad-o

  6. Bleh

    Have a look at the notes from the Seanad yesterday. Ivana Bacik tried to bring up the difficulty people have had in registering complaints about the ads and was drowned out by arguments about semantics. Infuriating.

    1. Leela2011

      disgusted by FF cronies bringing up stupid arguments and Mullen wanting to debate abortion, for goodness sake, it’s about extending the remit of ASAI….grrrr

  7. The Vajazzler

    The Senators that were supporting youth defence and hindering the public having a right to complain were all Fianna Failers. Surprise surprise.

    1. Miles

      Orchestrated by the very masculine chubby-cheeked Senator Ronan Mullen; he’s a lovely guy and you’ll generally find him lurking Polonius-like around the corridors of power…if only he would meet the same fate as the latter tedious busy-body.

          1. Miles

            “corridors of power” – perhaps I should have used the more apposite term “closets of power” for our hallowed anti-gay crusader Senator Ronan Mullen…

    1. Leela2011

      Contact local TDs and senators, think it’s only way at the moment. That’s how Bacik picked it up I reckon

      1. Blobster

        That’s not the only way – its not even the best way – contact the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland if you have an actual complaint.

          1. Blobster

            Thanks Dave – i see the post below regarding this. As you were…..contact whoever you like.

      2. fleurgh

        The best thing to do it to make your local representatives aware that this doesn’t represent you. Because the pro-choice majority are generally reasonable people, it’s easy to slip into thinking that reason will prevail, but we’re being drowned out by a very loud minority. Speak up!

  8. b

    Tha action on x facebook page willed tell u how to attempt ti complain about these ads. Though nothing will come of it :-/

    1. Blobster

      Is that because any complaints so far have been groundless? Feeling very, very, very strongly that an advert is offensive or disagreeable is not the same as it being proven to be misleading or offensive.

      Like a lot of things in life – you may wish it wasn’t so (that these ads didn’t impinge on your life) but that doesn’t mean we have the right to ban adverts. Otherwise I’d ban the “black-and-yellow freight” one.

      1. The Vajazzler

        ” Is that because any complaints so far have been
        groundless? ”

        Did you even read the article written by the doctor? Or the comments pointing out the ASAI is powerless because of the loophole?

        1. Blobster

          It’s not a loophole – it is simple the consequence of running up against the extent of the ASAI’s remit. What you’re looking for is a body that will effectively govern political sloganing…good luck with that.

          Yes. The doctor in the OP presents a good case and I presume the peer-reviewed paper is good work. It would be foolish (or perhaps wishful thinking) to assume that the debate begins ans ends with this one piece of evidence.

          Again, people seem to be looking for a sympathetic “politican slogan/rhetoric regulator” that will bend to their views.

          1. Caroline

            So in other words, it is most certainly not because the complaints are groundless (though they might be), as the grounds are not even being assessed, for want of jurisdiction.

        2. stevobaggio

          In response to Blobster
          Completely accept your point that having a slogan/rhetoric police is absurd, however IMO implying that abortion is detrimental to a woman’s life (the adverts don’t specify beyond abortion = bad) isn’t a political position. The legislation around abortion may be dictated in a political sphere, but the FY’s moral stance on it is not in itself inherently political, and in the instance of these advertisements they are representing their moral stance as something akin to statement of fact – something again which cannot be put under the banner of a political slogan.

          I can’t speak for anybody else, but personally what irks me more is that FY are essentially making a baseless assertion presumably to scare people, and as the IT article points out, they’re moral stance/statement is demonstrably untrue, not just by the aforementioned article, but by plenty of other research papers. Not of course that this should end the debate, but the research should surely be taken into consideration (and questioned) before any group makes a statement supporting or contravening this issue of the effects of abortion on mental health. Well…it would be nice anyway.

          1. True Kilcockian

            Stevobaggio I ask you:.

            Why can representing a moral choice as a statement of fact not be put under the banner of a political slogan?

            Also whatever else this campaign is it is non-commercial.

  9. paul

    Let it not be forgotten that Youth Defence have a nice history of association with far-right groups, neo-nazis and former SS.

    That’s what you’re dealing with when you try to go up against ‘Fianna Fail’ members of the Seanad.

    1. Miles

      I recall very vividly the puny Justin Barrett of Youth Defence, photographed standing in a room someone in Eastern Europe festooned with neo-nazi paraphernalia and the very identifiable supporters of the latter and when asked why he was attending and addressing this gathering, he simply replied that he was there to speak about one issue and did not notice or believe that these people were neo-nazi sympathisers. Of course the just-a-tad shady David Quinn and his bedfellow, the very manly Senator Ronan Mullen have made herculean attempts to both to alienate Barrett and distance themselves from him culminating in Mullen having him removed from his victory celebrations on first being elected to the Seanad…you couldn’t make this stuff up…

        1. Miles

          One can eminently see how he was “confused” at the political aspirations of those in attendance. Given me Justin Barrett any day though over the creepy David Quinn and the sanctimoniously smug hypocrite Senator Ronan Mullen who would make the mass deportation of homosexuals sounds reasonable in the name of a pluralist society which “cares” about children and the family.

  10. Joey

    There is a load of comments about this on their FB page now. only a matter of time till they are removed. Good job I have photos :)

    1. alibaba

      +1the crux of the whole thing. The very reason pro-choice positionists dont launch a nationwide biased and misleading campaign, although they may not agree with the pro-life stance, they believe that people are entitled to their own beliefs and opinions.

      1. True Kilcockian

        Perhaps they have been chastened by the extraordinary failure of previous attempts to run such campaigns?

        1. alibaba

          There has never been a campaign in Ireland guilting people into not retrospectively considering abortion who went on to choose adoption or parenting. This is what that campaign does to people who have or are considering abortion, True Kilcockian, please show me the ‘Abortion is the Only Option’ campaigns you seem to speak of,you’ll find it hard as they dont exist. Pro-choice means just that,and it means supporting women in their choice,whatever that choice is.It is not pro-abortion,it is simply anti judgement and pro-woman.

  11. stevobaggio

    From the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland website (in the ‘make a complaint’ section of the site):

    RE: Youth Defence Campaign
    The primary objective of the ASAI Code of Standards for Advertising, Promotional and Direct Marketing is the regulation of commercial marketing communications in the interest of consumers.
    Marketing communications that do not have a commercial element and which whose principal purpose is to express the advertiser’s position on a political, religious, industrial relations, social or aesthetic matter or on an issue of public interest or concern do not come within the remit of the Code.
    We have received a number of complaints about the current Youth Defence campaign. However, as this advertising does not have a commercial element (e.g. a fundraising element) and is expressing the advertiser’s position on an issue of public interest, it is outside the remit of the Code.

    (Sound of hands being washed clean)

    We are therefore unable to investigate complaints about this campaign.
    I don’t think there’s much ground to argue that there’s a commercial element to the campaign, however YD are not expressing a position, so much as they are implying a link between (I’ll be nice and use a literal interpretation) a negative impact on a woman’s’ life as result of abortion. This is something which is empirically proven to be untrue on a general level.

    Further, the implication is that you can advertise a position on an issue of public interest regardless of the basis of that position. That’s something which is just rife for these sorts of advertisements to take advantage of.

    1. whattheF

      oh actually we should set up a facebook page called youth offence and just have the opposite arguments to them

  12. Tweezer_girl

    Yes it’s complex, but where do these people get off telling others what to do. Make your own decisions and allow others the same privilege.

    1. Pedanto

      It’s not a simple matter of one person making a decision. They believe there are two people involved, and one of them is entitled to the protection of the state. You may not agree with that, but it’s not mad.

      1. Paul Moloney

        “They believe there are two people involved, and one of them is entitled to the protection of the state.”

        I presume then you’ll be calling for the arrest of women who’ve had abortions, and also for the extradition/internment of women who attempt them. I mean, that _is_ the moral conclusion of the “foetus is identical to a grown women” argument put forward by anti-choice people. But someone they never reach that conclusion as they know, frankly, it makes them look like nuts.


        1. Pedanto

          I’m not calling for anything, Paul, except a bit less posturing and a bit more effort to understand the other side.

        2. True Kilcockian

          That is almost certainly the position of the members of Youth Defense. It was certainly their position 20 years ago.
          They are not stupid enough to admit their real views.

  13. Emily

    Didn’t take them long to delete all those comments and links to IT article. Shocked so I am. Who would’ve thunk their professed love of free speech was hollow…

    Hope someone has screen shots

  14. Bernardo

    Youth Defence’s links with the far right are numerous.

    One example.

    The former National Organiser of Youth Defence, Maurice Colgan, shared a flat with Anthony Barnes, lead singer of Dublin neo-Nazi boenhead band ‘Celtic Dawn”, in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

    Colgan was seen at least once, at a leafleting session, wearing a Celtic Dawn t-shirt.

    His friend Barnes was later convicted for assault, slicing a political opponents neck with a beer bottle, circa 1990.

    Some old articles on Justin Barrett, YD and links to the far-right can be read here;


    1. Miles

      I always found it hilariously ironic that someone with the genetic limitations of Justin Barret would be a supporter of those who are rabidly anti-immigration and believers in the notion of a master race.

    1. Caroline

      I agree. Let’s have a little summer break from YD, and the “pro-aborts”, and Paddy Power while we’re at it, and try and get some sort of a good vibe going…

      1. Caroline

        Sorry, forgot obligatory quotes around “summer”…. or maybe I’m NOT sorry, maybe that’s the sort of defiant optimism by one woman that will fire the belief in summer needed to make it come…I’m thinking of a sort of Zooey Deschanel/Central Park/Santa Clause singalong thing here… who’s with me?

        No? Worth a try though right.

  15. Caroline

    The thing is, it wouldn’t change my opinion on abortion even if it was shown that it tended to ultimately have a negative effect on women’s mental health. Obviously, misrepresenting that it does have such an effect, when that is debatable or even flat out untrue, is wrong and possibly damaging. But it still doesn’t affect my reasoning on abortion. For the same reason that I wouldn’t seek a ban on divorce if it was found to have adverse effects on mental health – which, as far as I’m aware, it has in some cases.

      1. Caroline

        I haven’t examined the evidence proffered so far (i.e. looked at the studies) and I would want to hear more debate on the issue before I was fully convinced. Sorry about that.

        1. alibaba

          I am fully informed on both sides of the debate and remain staunchly pro-choice.I am not a ‘pro-abort’, the term quite insensitively used by youth defence,I believe fundamentally that we are the gate keepers of our own bodies and should retain the right to our own bodily integrity,if someone chooses to have an abortion, become a parent or adopt we should fully support them in making the right choice for them.The tone on the Youth Defence facebook page is one of giddyness and immaturity and devoid of the sensitivity the issue requires.If they wish to promote an anti-abortion ethos,which they have every right to do,however much I disagree with it,they cannot be allowed propegate lies and use those lies to invoke fear and guilt into any segment of society.I support their right to believe what they do,so long as they pay me the same respect in return.

  16. wafflewaitress

    Closed minded people-haters. No love, no understanding – just anger and vitriol. They’re to be pitied, but not as much as any children they might have.
    (Of which there might be many….)

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