DC Radio Giant Pulls Pro-Life Ad

Ad highlighted Planned Parenthood organ harvesting, political spending

Planned Parenthood rally
Planned Parenthood rally / AP
January 14, 2017

An influential Washington, D.C., radio station pulled a pro-life advertisement highlighting Planned Parenthood's organ harvesting scandal.

Station WTOP pulled a thirty second spot aimed at supporting Congress' effort to redirect taxpayer dollars from Planned Parenthood to women's health centers that do not perform abortion. The ad was paid for by the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life women's group that supports abortion opponents.

The ad begins by noting that Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest provider of abortions, being responsible for about 30 percent of the nation's 1 million annual abortions, and that it spent "thirty million last election on political activism, not women’s healthcare."

"Its executives were caught on tape bragging about selling baby body parts," the ad says. "It’s time to redirect Planned Parenthood’s funding to community health centers that provide comprehensive health care to women, not abortions."

A WTOP representative contacted the group asking it to revise the ad copy, specifically citing the need to change the word "bragging" to "discussing." The station and organization traded emails over the matter.

"People are complaining like crazy over the SBA ads.  Can you get them to forward you the backup (article etc.) for the discussing sale of aborted fetus parts ascertain," the representative said. Is it "possible to get new copy that reads 'discussing' rather than 'bragging,'" he asked in a later email.

SBA List refused to edit the advertisement, though it was aware that WTOP reserves the right to pull ads for any reason. The group's president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, called WTOP "shameful" in a release and said that it was betraying its value as a "First Amendment organization."

"This regrettable response to our radio spot on one of the lead topics in the current national debate is shameful for a First Amendment institution like WTOP," she said in a release. "Planned Parenthood speaks boldly of its pride in performing more abortions than any other entity in the United States and packaging the body parts of these aborted children for profitable use. These are the facts, however uncomfortable they may be for some to hear."

WTOP Station Manager Joel Oxley said the decision came from station management, rather than listener complaints or "opponents." The ad ran unedited for two-thirds of its purchased run.

"In our view 'bragging' constituted a subjective characterization while the word 'discussing' is an objective statement of 'fact,'" Oxley said in an email. "The change was requested by station management, not as the result of 'opponents’ pushing to silence' SBA List."

He added that the station regularly "requests its advertisers to change commercial copy," though he did not provide a specific example of a political group having an ad pulled over its copy.

The WTOP representative refused to specify the quantity and nature of the complaints when asked by the group. The organization forwarded them news clips using the word "brag" in reference to undercover footage released by the Center for Medical Progress in which a top Planned Parenthood official boasted of the practices that give it an advantage over competitors in the field of organ supply.

"Where we probably have an edge over other organizations, our organization has been doing research for many, many years,’ the official said. "Telling you this, so we can get creative about when and where, and under what conditions can we interject something that is specific to the tissue procurement needs."

Despite pulling the ad, the station account executive pressed the group on whether it would like to put another ad on the air the week of inauguration.

"We’re going to need to need [sic] the revision to make it through the end of the week. Is there a chance that this will renew for next week?" he said.

Dannenfelser said that the station's response to the ad demonstrates the effectiveness and pledged to continue bringing up the organ harvesting scandal, which is still under investigation by a special House committee.

"One of the surest signs that a policy message like ours is effective is its opponents' pushing to silence it," she said in the statement. "Rest assured that SBA List will continue to unveil and champion the truth about Planned Parenthood, no matter what they and their allies do to suppress the reality behind their public masks."

Published under: Abortion