Campus Times and Pro-Life---Intellectual Dishonesty

I had a huge OP and then it was lost. So, I’m trying again.

I attend the University of La Verne, La Verne California. Today the week’s Campus Times hit the newsstands. Flipping through it I came across a seven page add supplement from
If you never heard of these people, they are a pro-life organization. I really don’t have a problem with that. AFAIC, they are a group that disagree with me. No problem. However, I am upset over the blatant lies and intellectual dishonesty.
Everybody in Great Debates can appreciate a good, honest debate. AFAIC, there is nothing better. An honest debate can show you a new viewpoint, teach you something about yourself and the world, and overall have very positive effect. An dishonest debate however can be extremely detramental to both sides.
Also, dishonesty pisses me off, a great deal.
I expect my school to be above this. It is in their newspaper, and so implies they condone blatant lies, half-truths, and misleading statements.
Here are a few gems:

There are also two or three articles, or “personal stories” that seem to say that all girls who get abortions are A)Forced to do it by the evil Abortion Doctors and B)Regret it every waking moment.
Anyway, I won’t go more into it, (unless specifically asked) most of everything in the fliar can be found on their website.

I bring this to you guys because I want to write a response and mail it to the important people on campus. I want to have both sides of the issue, because I know that pro-life people have better arguements than this, and I know that pro-life !=intellectually dishonest.

Pep, was there any indication that those “personal stories” were even true? I’ve read similar articles which made no attempt to establish veracity, but like your examples, try to portray abortion as something women are always forced into by abortion doctors, boyfriends, etc. Obviously, it’s part of their political calculations to not alienate women by confronting them directly. Like you said, very dishonest.

One is signed “Michele C”, one is signed “Email message to Human Life Alliance” and one is signed “Dr. Angela Woodhull.” The first and the third are accompanied with pictures, I guess to prove these are real people.

If this was a paid ad, why should the paper be considered to have "condone"d it? This is the issue that was raised with that idiot who took out the ads against reparations or slavery. His ad was a paid ad. People jumped all over the schools that printed the ad for “condoning” his racism–and all his supporters jumped all over the papers who refused to run it as “suppressing speech.”

My perspective is that attacking the errors in the ad is legitimate, but attacking the paper for accepting money (which is why they are in business) is not necessary.

(And, yes, I can see a paper rejecting a call for violence. I may be conflicted about rejecting an ad denying the historical reality of the Holocaust, but my initial reaction is that a commercial venture (even one with school sponsorship) should be allowed to accept cash for doing their job.)

Can you provide the exact text which says this? This sounds like a case of misconstrual to me. Pro-life organizations do sya that such things occur (especially post-abortion syndrome), but I don’t know of any which state that “all girls who get abortions” are as you described.

I don’t see how that is necessarily dishonest. I do question the reasoning behind that statement, and I do think that the statement was poorly phrased and ill-conceived. Still, I don’t think this makes it a case of clear dishonesty.

I agree with Tom on this. While I am personally 100% in your camp Pep as far as my personal feelings go these guys bought an ad and there isn’t much to be done about it. They can say pretty much what they want considering they paid to do it. I suppose you could try and bust them for false advertising but my guess is that would be very difficult if not impossible to prove.

My knee-jerk reaction is that the paper shouldn’t allow such advertising but that is wrong. If they rejected that advertising then they would have to reject any advertising for a pro-choice opinion as well.

If you want to fight this I’d say either find the money to run your own ads or write and OP-ED piece and hope the paper prints it.

As a pro-abortion rights, Planned Parenthood-contributing Great Satan in good standing, let me say that the ad you describe doesn’t sound all that offensive, given the tone of much anti-abortion rights rhetoric.

Personal testimonials of unverifiable accuracy are a standard boilerplate anti-abortion rights tactic. The stuff about equal rights is basically just an annoying non-sequitur.

Where I would have a problem is the paper running an ad with aborted fetus photos, or listing the names/addresses of doctors performing abortions.

In general, I think campus papers can best serve their readers by thinking twice before running inflammatory one-sided ads on controversial topics. Far better to generate a story with local interest and to interview the protagonists (much easier to delve behind the sorts of half-truths and misstatements that can be found in such ads).

That is true tom. But I think that their own code of ethics makes me them look like hypocrites.

Bolding mine

It seems to me that they are not only publishing half-truths and lies, in-so-doing they are breaking their own code of ethics.

I’m under the impression that this newspaper is not in business to make money, as the newspaper is free to everybody, and it’s put together by the under-grad journalist students. But honestly, I don’t know, so for now, I will concede the point.

Ok, here are a few things.

Ok, so not all, but over 70%. At least the vast majority. Since PAS is not a recgonized disorder, and that according to [This article](
92&dbname=f88&sorting=NONE&TemplateName=doc_f.tmpl&setCookie=1) (Sigh, I just noticed that you have to be a student at ULV to access that. If you want to see the article, email me, and I’ll forward it to you.)

I would say that the previous quotes are blatant misrepresentations of the truth, if not outright lies. 70% of women?

Because that’s not the point of a pro-choice side. It’s not the “right to have an abortion” it’s the right to choose what to do or not to do with your own body. Sometimes that choice includes abortion.

The reason I was offended was not because of how the subject was presented (there are no gross pictures) but rather the dishonesty.

While I am, admittedly, pro-life, I have to admit I don’t see anything blatantly wrong with what you’ve posted thus far.

There’s no question that the things you’ve quoted are not logically compelling. By posting specific stories, they invite the reader to infer from the specific to the general: that is, because “Michelle C.” was told that she had no baby, only a mass of tissue, and that it would not hurt, so, too, will you, if you choose an abortion.

Obviously, that’s not so. We have no way of knowing where she went. We can certainly imagine a medical practice in which women are told that an abortion does hurt, for instance, and are permitted to talk to friends, and which does not have the feel of an assembly line; in which women are given all the facts, without a particular agenda, and then permitted to make a decision.

But it’s certainly permissible, in argument, to offer a specific case, because it adds at least a bit of credibility to your side, and because it invites the opposing side to demonstrate that the specific does not translate to the general - perhaps by offering a counter-anecdote.

“But they choose against their conscience because of pressure from others and their circumstances…” Frankly, I know women who have told me, personally, exactly that – that they had doubts about having an abortion, but felt pressured into it by family in one case, and the boyfriend in the other case. So I don’t doubt the truthfulness of the quote. Of course, many, probably most, women who choose to abort don’t feel this way; it’s a decision made by them without undue pressure. But again - they are simply arguing from the specific to the general… they offer a true story and invite you to draw the conclusion that it’s typical.

As it happens, though, this technique is precisely what advertising is all about. Advertisers should tell the truth, yes - but not the whole truth. Each dishwashing liquid claims it cleans better than all the rest. Each beer claims it tastes better than all the rest, each car that it drives better than its competitors. All of them - save one each, I suppose - are deceiving you.

But unlike debate, in which it’s incumbent on each rhetor to be bend-over-backwards-honest, advertising does not claim to be telling you the whole story.

With that framework in mind… if you can post something they printed that is an out-and-out lie (not a matter of one study says A, and another says B) - let’s have it.

  • Rick

I, too, know several such women. In fact, I was informally counselling one such woman a few months ago. We had been friends for a while, but only recently did she admit to having an abortion, and that it was performed under duress.

Bricker is right. Nothing in the article is clearly dishonest. One might contest the beliefs presented, but that’s hardly the same as demonstrating dishonesty.

Consider post-abortion syndrome, pepperlandgirl. Even though there are authorities who don’t recognize it as a disorder, that doesn’t make the ads dishonest. After all, there are those who believe that it should should be recognized as such.

Besides, the authors merely said, “Research shows that after any abortion it is common for women to experience guilt, depression, feelings of being dirty, resentment of men, and lowered self-esteem.” Even if we don’t recognize this as a syndrome, there are still research studies which show that these symptoms do occur.

None of the other posted excerpts indicate dishonesty, either. Again, one might disagree with the statements presented, but that hardly constitutes dishonesty on their part.

I don’t see how this can be an argument against abortion rights. With just about any major decision people receive outside pressure. Sometimes they vote against their conscience and succumb to the wishes of others. It’s hardly an abortion specific example.

The flaw I see is that the article made an interesting argument, but went on and merely showed the consequences of and circumstances behind some women’s choice to have an abortion. I thought that they were instead going to argue that the abortion debate tied up the feminist movement so much that, to some, the feminist movement became defined as the right-to-have-an-abortion-cause-I-feel-like-it movement. Then they might have argued that the feminist movement should have focused more on other matters such as family leave and pre and post-natal care coverage, combatting the negative effects of pornography, easier access to other methods of birth control, and the Equal Rights Amendment, before turning to the subject of abortion. Then it could have finally argued that the Roe v. Wade decision was the worst thing that could have happened to the feminist movement. From pepperlandgirl’s presentation of the opening argument of the article in question, I thought that it was going to tackle those issues.

I think it’s rather facile to say that pro-choicers AREN’T demanding the right to abortion. Even if we grant that they want the right to control their own bodies, abortion would presumably fall under that category. (I say “presumably” because that argument implicitly assumes that the fetus is not a distinct human being. Obviously, that’s one of the key points under debate.)

Besides, even if we grant that pro-choicers aren’t REALLY asking for the right to have an abortion (a proposition that I find a tad silly), that still doesn’t make the ad dishonest. One could claim they failed to present the pro-choice stand accurately, but that’s obviously not the same thing as dishonesty.

Wait a minute. Did you have the opportunity to read it in its entirety? If so, how? If not, how do you know that it “merely showed the consequences…” and so forth?

And even if it did have this failing, I wouldn’t call that dishonesty. Some people use emotional appeals, as the pro-choice side did, when they presented Normay McCorvey’s case in Roe vs. Wade. Other eschew emotion and rely on more dispassionate appeals (pro-life and pro-choice philosophers tend to fall in this camp). Still others use a mixture of the two. I prefer the dispassionate approach, but I recognize that each technique has its relative merits and proper venues.

So, IOW, it’s ok to apparently pull figures out of the air (70% of women) without a cite. And it’s ok to purposely lie about the opposition. (Abortion is all about the money?) It’s ok to cite a “disorder” that is not even recgonized? It doesn’t matter if people think it should be. What kind of arguement is that?
Ahhh, here is another blatant untruth that I missed the first time through.

That’s just the point, what research? If they had provided a cite, I would have included it. But they didn’t.
Research shows that 1 in 3 women regularly masturbate to the sounds of Celine Dion and Mariah Carry. 1 in 5 women admitted to being sexually attracted to a male member of her family.
I can say “Research shows” anything, that doens’t mean it’s true. They could just as easily make it up. But by presenting it as some sort of “fact” they are being dishonest.

I think it’s the exact same thing as dishonesty. They are either dishonest, or completely ignorant of the pro-choice side. The more I think about it, the more I realize why I am upset over this. It’s a stawman. Instead of arguing the points based on the pro-choice stand, they are making things up, picking and choosing which “facts” that should be presented, lying about statistics, and appealing to emotions.
I could easily respond with personal data about the women I know who got an abortion (or several) and apparently never gave it a second thought. But what good would that do? I’m not a psychiatrist, or any type of professional.

Has anybody gone to their website? I’m obviously not going to type out all 7 pages of this supplement. It’s rather large, and there are a lot of things covered.

AFAIC, everything about this Advertising Supplement is dishonest, from the word go.

From The American Cancer Association: What are the risk factors of breast cancer?

Whoa. It’s perfectly fine to pull out figures without a cite in advertising. “Four out of five doctors surveyed recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum.” Where’s their cite? And why haven’t you asked for it?

I think you’re holding an ad to the standards we’ve developed here in GD, and attacking the claims with the same critical thinking skills we prize here.

That’s excellent.

But the medium is not the same. Here in GD, it’s a simple matter to challenge a statistic, and expect the proponent of it to offer a cite or withdraw it. In the world of advertising, it’s not incumbent on the proponent of a statistic to include the cite in the ad.

That is not to say they are permitted to make up statistics out of thin air, either. If Dentyne were challenged on their “four out of five” claim, they’d have to withdraw or modify their ad. But as it happens, there was a study; Cecil even wrote about it. And it even had a dirty secret: the fifth dentist recommended no gum at all, and Dentyne was reluctant to broadcast that fact to the public. But that didn’t make their ad dishonest.

So the question becomes: does this group have a study from which they are drawing the 70% figure?

I have no idea. But you ought to make an effort to contact them before automatically branding it worthless.

Are you saying there was no Dallas exposé about phony abortions, ever?

As I discussed above, this is not so. Ads don’t require cites. But they cannot lie, either - so if this group is contacted, and has no study, no research, then I agree they are dishonest. But from the facts thus far, we cannot conclude this.

We have already addressed your concern over statistics.

As I see it, your ire here stems from the ad claiming pro-choicers want a “right to legal abortions” and you feel this is a strawman – that the pro-choice position is more accurately characterized as “wanting the right to choose.”

I would opine that you’re splitting hairs. Neither side objects to the “choice” of having the baby. The only right that is controversial is the right to have an abortion. It’s true that the pro-choice platform is about ensuring that women have the freedom to choose an abortion or a pregnancy; it’s equally true that the fight is over only one of those choices.

I could replace “abortion” with “murder a baby” in all the text above, claiming that it was just as accurate. That would be a clear attempt to frame the discussion in pro-life terms. This may not be a lie, but it would certainly not be a tactic befitting a debater interested in exploring the truth. Equally, someone could object to “pro-life” as the label for the opposing side; after all, they are pro-life: the life of the women in these desperate situations. But both of these are arguments without substance. Frankly, the characterization of the pro-choice movement as seeking to retain the right to abortion is not, in my view, a stretch. I grant that it may not be completely neutral – again, this is an ad. They don’t have to be neutral.

You correctly understand that individual stories prove nothing about the general case, and so are loath to present them. This makes you an excellent, and honest, debator.

But a lousy ad writer.

  • Rick

Those very words suggest that there are studies which do suggest a direct relationship between spontaneous abortion and breast cancer - if most of the studies have no evidence, what do the others say?

And the recent study from Denmark - it’s recent; suggesting earlier studies which had different results. If that’s not so, why wouldn’t they say, “ALL studies…” or “All reputable studies…”

My point, again: if they have a study they can point to, they’re on solid ground.

  • Rick

*Originally posted by Bricker *

Like here for example.

The specific study usually referred to is

Daling JR, Malone KE, Voigt LF, et al. Risk of breast cancer among young women: Relationship to induced abortion. J Natl Cancer Inst 1994;86:1584–1592.

Is this kind of medical study controversial? Yep.
Would I use it as an argument to buttress MY pro life views? Nope.
Is it the kind of study that could (indirectly) be used in an ADVERTISEMENT to make a point? Yep.