Ads Containing the Word ‘Abortion’ Blocked: 20,000 NARAL Pro-Choice America Members Protest

by Emma Tilden

On June 25th, NBCUniversal released a statement acknowledging that they had asked the media buyer for the movie “Obvious Child” to remove the word “abortion” from a digital ad.  The network also noted that this request had been a “mistake,” stating that “an online ad was submitted for digital placement and feedback was mistakenly given to remove the word ‘abortion.’ That is not company policy and we are currently reviewing our ad standards processes to ensure they are consistent across all platforms moving forward. Our digital platforms will accept the ad as it was originally submitted.” 

Really, NBC?  In the same week that the Supreme Court deems the security offered by 35-foot buffer zones around abortion clinics—zones designed to protect women seeking abortion from harassment by pro-life protesters—unconstitutional on the basis that they limited the protesters’ freedom of speech. They can say whatever they want, but when women are being harassed for the choices they make about their own bodies they deserve protection! NBC is trying to protect the fragile eyes of their digital viewers from beholding *gasp* the inoffensive term for a common medical procedure. 

Now that is what I call an abridgment of first amendment rights. 

Luckily, the petitioning prowess of “more than 20,000 NARAL Pro-Choice America members,” in consort with Planned Parenthood supporters, has led NBC to review its rejection of the ad and to clarify its advertising guidelines. 

“[T]reating abortion as too controversial to speak the word on television drives damaging stigma and judgment around a medical procedure that one in three women experience in our lifetimes.”  Said Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America.  “This movie is about acceptance and authenticity, and NBC’s viewers deserve the right to make up their own minds if they want to see the film.” 

The making of “Obvious Child,” a movie which not only features a stellar cast of empowered women, but also deals directly with abortion (all while still being super hilarious!), is momentous.  Planned Parenthood described the movie as a “huge step forward in the work towards more honesty about women and abortion in TV and movies.” 

Instead of banning the word “abortion” from its screens, NBC should take a cue from “Obvious Child” and deal with the fact that abortions exist.  No censorship is going to change that.  

Images courtesy of and  

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