Papers 'censor' abortion ads

2010-01-29 22:06

Cape Town - A Christian organisation on Friday accused two Cape Town newspapers of censorship after they refused to publish anti-abortion advertisements.

"In what appears to be a case of censorship by the press, The Cape Times and Argus have again refused to place an obituary notice [for aborted babies]," said Christian Action Network (CAN) international co-ordinator Taryn Hodgson in a statement.

The newspapers refused to publish the advertisement in their classified "Deaths" and "Personal" sections, Hodgson said.

"Freedom of speech seems to be undermined when newspaper editors censor obituary notices and refuse to give appropriate media coverage to the hidden holocaust of 900 000 South African babies killed by abortion," she said.

Cape Times and Cape Argus have refused to publish CAN's anti-abortion advertisements for the past four years. However, Die Burger and The Citizen newspapers had no qualms in publishing the advertisements in their "Deaths" sections, she said.


Independent Newspapers editor-in-chief Chris Whitfield told Sapa the advertisements were refused because it would be inappropriate to publish the anti-abortion obituary in the "Deaths" section.

Such advertisements would violate the "sensibilities for people who use the columns to commemorate loved ones", he said.

He told CAN the same when they were refused publication in previous years, he said.

Hodgson called this stance "hypocritical" because the newspapers' classifieds "often contain legitimately offensive material such as abortuaries and strip joint advertisements".

However, Whitfield called this a "wilful misunderstanding" of his words.

"I told them I would be happy to place the advertisement anywhere in the paper but the 'Deaths' section," he said.

They could even publish in the "Personal" section, he said.

Hodgson said they did not try to publish the advertisements elsewhere in the newspapers upon the first refusal.

The advertisements were due to be published on February 1, when CAN will lead a "funeral procession" to Parliament in Cape Town in protest against the "thousands of babies, killed by abortion, who have never had a funeral", the statement read.