A Northern Ireland based anti-abortion group by the name of—and this is real—Both Lives Matter will be able to keep up a wildly misleading billboard it put up recently, thanks to a decision by an advertising regulatory group.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that the group could continue claiming that “100,000 people are alive today because of [Northern Ireland’s] laws on abortion”—despite having no real evidence for that number.
According to the ASA’s statement, which was published in the Guardian, the billboard—and its dubious claim—will stay up because, “We considered that 100,000 was a large, round number that readers would typically associate with estimates.” Never mind that that is not actually how numbers or humans work.
It’s a cynical move in response to recent move by the British government that allows women in Northern Ireland, where abortion is illegal, to travel to England for the procedure. It appears that Both Lives Matter has homed in on the nice, round number and run with it, using it in pamphlets as well as the controversial billboard.
But just as cynical is the group’s name itself, which obviously appropriates the U.S.-based Black Lives Matter movement, even using a hashtag and protest signage as part of its branding.
As Elizabeth Nelson, an activist with the Belfast Feminist Network, wrote in an op-ed for The Guardian on Friday, the nascent anti-abortion group’s choice of name is flat-out offensive for invoking the social justice movement.
From The Guardian:
In all its talk of “both” lives mattering during a crisis pregnancy, the campaign fails ever to mention the pregnant woman. What is happening to that person’s life – their body, their dreams, their finances, their mental health – is, for a campaign seemingly more intent on oppressing women than liberating them, nothing more than a word association game meant to draw a provocative parallel with a real struggle for civil rights.
Nelson notes that reproductive justice campaigns and movements like BLM sprout as a necessary “response to oppression and domination.”
The hijacking of such a powerful concept by the Both Lives Matter campaign is a cynical attempt to spin the language of human rights into froth to hide their true agenda – the subjugation of women. An appropriation of intersecting oppressions, Both Lives Matter neither cares about women’s lives, nor shares an affinity with Black Lives Matter – beyond using a powerful rallying cry for human rights as a cover to maintain the marginalisation of women in Northern Ireland.
In fact, Both Lives Matter routinely co-opts feminist language to strange, nonsensical ends, like in the image below, which was shared on its Twitter account.
“It takes a village,” reads the bolded heading, borrowing a line from the well-worn proverb and the title of Hillary Clinton’s book. To borrow another well-known line, GTFOH.