Christian advert banned by watchdog

Christians accuse ASA of double standards over religious adverts
Christians accuse ASA of double standards over religious adverts

By Laura Miller

A pro-Christian advert that claims a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer in young women increases teenage infertility has been banned by the advertising watchdog.

Paid for by fundamentalist group Christian Voice, the advert in the New Statesman entitled, 'Violent crime - sowing and reaping', condemned government health policies, including giving a key cancer vaccine on the NHS, for focusing on curbing teenage pregnancy at the expense, the advert claimed, of teenage fertility.

"Every government initiative, including the HPV [Human papillomavirus] vaccine, will increase [teenage infertility], but as all the targets revolve around pregnancy, no-one in power knows how many young people they are making sterile and nobody cares", it read.


But after receiving complaints that claims linking the HPV vaccine to teenage infertility could not be substantiated, the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) ruled the advert broke advertising rules and could not be republished.

Worldwide, after breast cancer, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer that affects women.

Affecting sexually active women, in 99.7% of all cases cervical cancer results from a history of infection by a group of viruses called human papillomavirus - or HPV. Cancer-causing HPV types also cause a high number of other genital cancers, as well as some cancers of the mouth, throat and anus.

The HPV vaccine protects against the two strains of HPV (16 and 18) that cause cervical cancer in over 70% of women. It does not protect against any other sexually transmitted infections or against pregnancy.

But speaking to politics.co.uk Mr Green, national director of Christian Voice, said the availability of the vaccine "encourages people to just keep on fornicating, increasing promiscuity", which he claims will then lead to an increase in teenage infertility.

Cancer Research UK criticised the advert's wording and the suggestion that the HPV vaccine could damage fertility.

"The claim that the HPV vaccine could lead to infertility is misleading and has no scientific basis. The safety of the vaccine has been established in large clinical trials and will be continually monitored as it comes into wider use," Ed Yong, health information manager at the charity told politics.co.uk

Mr Green claimed the advert was not intended to suggest a direct link between the HPV vaccine and teenage infertility.

Mr Green said the ruling against Christian Voice represented "double standards."

"On matters of faith and morality the ASA seems to make up the rules as it goes along," he said.

The ASA recently ruled in favour of the British Humanist Society over complaints against its campaign slogan: 'There's probably no God, now stop worrying and enjoy your life.'

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