Media Censorship and Pro-Choice Hypocrisy
It would appear that prayer and the mentioning of God and the terms "killed by abortion" are not allowed in the classifieds. Freedom of the press apparently does not apply to pro-life obituaries.
Every year, since abortion was legalised in South Africa, Africa Christian Action has placed obituary notices in the classified columns of newspapers throughout the country. Many newspapers have included the obituary notice, year by year, without any problem.
However, the two largest daily newspapers in Cape Town, The Cape Times and The Argus have consistently refused to include the obituary notice. The wording of the apparently offensive obituary notice is as follows: "All babies killed by abortion since 1 February 1997. Africa Christian Action mourns the one million babies whose lives have been tragically cut short since the legalisation of abortion on demand. May God have mercy on South Africa."
Several years ago, the Editor of the Cape Argus, Chris Whitfield, refused to place the advertisement in the Deaths column in the classified section, because it "regards this as a space for private messages, one which is used by people to commemorate their loved ones." Whitefield also claimed that the refusal to place the obituary notice was because they "thought it was inappropriate to include such a message amongst those notices placed by grieving families and friends" and that the notice may be "offensive" to some readers. The classifieds department also refused to place the notice under the personal column, because they considered the notice "too controversial".
At the time the International Co-ordinator of the Christian Action Network, Taryn Hodgson, pointed out that this was hypocritical of the Cape Times and the Argus as their classifieds regularly contain truly offensive material such as advertisements for "safe and pain free" abortions and strip club and escort agency advertisements. It has been well proven that many of these escort agencies are nothing more than brothels, hubs for drug dealers and some have been shown to be involved in trafficking women from Eastern Europe.
The Editor of the Cape Times was also given Affidavit testimonies from young girls straight out of high school who had been lured deceptively by job offers for "Receptionists" and "Trainee Masseuses" and then found themselves trapped in prostitution. Yet the Cape Times and the Argus have continued to allow the exploitative owner of two of these "massage parlors/escort agencies" brothels to deceptively recruit young girls desperate for employment through the "Career Times Classifieds".
It was also pointed out that the "births section" often contains a message from Baby City congratulating all parents on the birth of their precious babies. In letters to the Editor and on radio programmes I have asked whether the Argus would refuse an obituary notice to "the unknown soldier" on 11 November, in remembrance of all those soldiers who fell in WW1 and WW2?
Are Babies not Being Killed?
"Is the Argus or the Times suggesting that aborted babies are not real people and therefore not worthy of being listed under their Deaths section?" asks Taryn Hodgson "Are they suggesting that pre-born babies killed by abortion are not 'loved ones'? Relatives of the pre-born babies killed, especially the mothers are indeed grieving now. In fact the Argus and Cape Times have also refused specific obituary notices for named babies of relatives who have been victims of abortion.
Researchers show that most women who have had an abortion suffer from grief, depression, nightmares and even suicidal thoughts, for many years after the abortion. We want to be able to encourage these women to find healing and forgiveness in Christ.
Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Speech is undermined when newspaper Editors censor obituary notices and refuse to give appropriate media coverage to the hidden holocaust of one million South African babies killed by abortion.
After the controversy engendered by our radio programmes and media release on the Cape Times and Argus censoring obituary notices for victims of abortion, the Argus Editor, Chris Whitfield, contacted Africa Christian Action and promised that they would be able to place a obituary notice in memory of aborted babies in the personal column.
However, when Taryn Hodgson of Africa Christian Action attempted to do that this year, the Cape Argus classified personnel stated that the Independent Newspapers finds the wording "too explicit" and that the Advertising Authority Regulations prohibit the use of phrases "babies killed by abortion" and "may God have mercy on South Africa". The Classifieds Advertisement Supervisor further stated that such an "explicitly worded opinion regarding abortion is not allowed in an advert"!
When the Christian Action Co-ordinator asked to see these requirements in writing, the Classified Advertising consultant was not able to send them to her. On contacting the Association for Communication and Advertising for confirmation that such restrictions exist, they informed her that it would cost R684 to have the wording of the obituary checked by their lawyer!
When Taryn checked the Advertising Standards Authority website she could not find any regulations pertaining to wording on deaths, or the mention of God.
Considering that other Newspapers in South Africa, such as Die Burger and The Citizen, have had no problem in publishing similar notices commemorating the babies in their Deaths column, it would seem that the Cape Times and Argus personnel were being disingenuous.
Invitation to Debate
The Editors of the Cape Times and Argus were invited to take part in a discussion on Media censorship and pro-choice hypocrisy on Christian Action's weekly Salt and Light Radio program me on Radio Tygerberg, Tuesday night, 1 February at 9pm. However they declined to participate.
Freedom of Religion
Taryn Hodgson, the Co-ordinator of Christian Action, observed that the consistent refusal of the Cape Times and the Argus to place any message in memory of the babies killed by abortion in their classifieds, seemed to be a violation of the Constitutional Right to Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech.
Does Abortion Not Result in Death?
She asked: "in saying that babies killed by abortion is an opinion, is Independent Newspapers suggesting that babies killed by abortion are not real people, or are they suggesting that they are not really killed?"
The Independent Newspapers and ASA regulations seem hypocritical when sexually explicit adverts that objectify women, and advertise women-exploiting brothels, are tolerated daily in the classifieds of these newspapers.
Since Nelson Mandela signed the Abortion on Demand Legislation on 1 February 1997 over one million babies have been killed in South Africa, legally, with tax-payers money. To mark that tragic anniversary the Christian Action Network organised a funeral procession through Cape Town in memory of the one million babies killed by abortion, who have never had a funeral. Marchers carried Christian flags and Crosses and were led by a hearse. A 6m billboard trailer brought up the rear of the march with full colour pictures of pre-born babies and the words Abortion kills babies and "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves" Proverbs 31:8.
March to Parliament
Outside the main gates of Parliament over 120 Christians, including numerous pastors from different denominations, and 2 members of Parliament, prayed the Psalms, Prayers of National Repentance and a Scriptural Imprecatory Prayer Proclamation. Participants at the Prayer Rally called on the nation and government leaders to Repent of the national sin of abortion and warned of God's Judgment if they do not Repent. A woman who had had an abortion testified at the Prayer Rally about the terrible psychological after-effects caused by her abortion, but also of the forgiveness and healing she had found through Repentance and Faith in Jesus Christ.
Countrywide Actions for Life
On Sunday numerous congregations observed 30 January as Sanctity Life Sunday. Other pro-life demonstrations and Prayer rallies have been held throughout the country, including in Boksburg, Potgietersrus, Durban and East London. Yet, this tragic landmark of over one million babies being killed by abortion was completely ignored by the Cape Times and Argus newspapers.
Some years ago, after I had been interviewed by a journalist concerning the bombing of our mission station in Sudan, I asked: "Why is it that the Argus continually publishes pro-abortion articles, and ignores pro-life events, such as the Life Chains and the National Day of Repentance?"
The answer was astounding: "Well, we're pro-choice."
"Yes, I understand that, but surely it is your intention to report events and present the facts, without fear or favour, from both sides?"
She smiled and shrugged her shoulders: "Well, I'm pro-choice. Every journalist that I know is pro-choice, and, well, I guess, we are just biased!" she grinned broadly.
That was a remarkable honest statement, but there is no doubt that most of the print media is pro-abortion.
That may not be much of a surprise to anyone. However, what is a surprise to us is that those who condemn censorship and hypocrisy could be so blatantly guilty of censorship and hypocritical double standards.
Dr. Peter Hammond