Banners for anti-abortion event line Market St. in San Francisco

Anti-abortion banners promoting a Walk for Life West Coast event in San Francisco have created a firestorm of controversy.
January 16, 2014 6:33:38 PM PST
When is free speech, hate speech? That debate is being played out in San Francisco where banners advertising a demonstration by those opposed to abortion have created a firestorm.

Banners along Market Street proclaim "Abortion HURTS Women." There are 50 of them prominently hanging from city lampposts promoting a Jan. 25 event.

"We did everything legally, we did everything by the book," said Walk for Life West Coast co-founder Eva Muntean. "We met every criteria. There is no reason at all for this to be an issue right now."

But it is an issue. Critics like Ellen Shaffer, co-director of the Trust Women Silver Ribbon Campaign, say the message is a lie.

"The truth is that abortion is one of the safest procedures women can have," Shaffer said. "It is critical, access to safe and legal abortions are critical to women's health."

For the past decade those who oppose abortion have hosted what they call a Walk for Life. They've advertised on billboards and Muni buses. This time they chose the banners. And the controversy could generate an even larger crowd than the more than 40,000 who attended last year.

"One of the things that the city is always talking about is how tolerant they are and how they're open to all views," Muntean said. "And here we are with a view that's different than what some San Franciscans believe and they are trying to shut us down."

Supervisor David Campos says the banners on city-owned property are spreading misinformation about abortion and city policy.

"I think that we in government have a responsibility to be on record saying that, you know, in San Francisco we do trust women, we respect their right to decide for themselves and we're going to protect that right," Campos said.

He has sponsored a resolution asking for a review of the criteria for accepting ads and to determine if the banners violate city law.


Load Comments