18/06/2012 11:26 BST | Updated 18/06/2012 11:49 BST

'Abortion Tears Life Apart' Adverts Spark Anger In Dublin

A pro-life campaign rolled out in Dublin promoting the idea that abortion "tears lives apart" has attracted strong criticism for increasing the shame and stigma attached to the issue, with the nation's advertising watchdog receiving scores of complaints.

Hundreds of the adverts, designed by pro-life group Youth Defence, have appeared on billboards, buses and the louas, Dublin's tram service.

The two styles of poster, one featuring the face of a distraught woman and another showing a foetus sucking its thumb, are emblazoned with the phrase 'Abortion tears her life apart. There's always a better answer.' The pictures appear torn in two in echo of the campaign's message.

Hundreds of the 'adverts' have appeared all over the city

But the campaign, which is due to be rolled out across the country next over coming weeks, has already attracted 52 complaints, the Advertising Standards Agency in Ireland told the Huffington Post UK.

Hundreds more adverts are due to go up around the country, rolled out in several stages.

Choice Ireland, which campaigns for women's right to choose, have criticised the ads, telling the Huffington Post UK they are not representative of women's feelings following a termination, and only serve to increase the shame and stigma around the issue of abortion.

The other style of photo features a foetus with the same phrase: 'Abortion tears her life apart'

Spokesperson Stephanie Lord said they had received "a number of angry and offended emails about these billboards.

"Some of the emails are from women who have had abortions themselves and who object to the message the billboards convey. These billboards do not speak for them. For a woman who has had an abortion to have to walk past this everyday, it's just horrible."

"A lot of people are coming to us and saying how do we complain, but the ASA are washing their hands of it, saying that for something to be complained about it has to be to do with sales of goods or provisions of services.

Some of the posters have been defaced by members of the public angry with their message

Lord raised concerns over the apparent lack of the relevant body to complain to: "This [advert] is very one sided and doesn't have women's best interests at heart. If you have enough money and are ideologically motivated it seems you can put up whatever you please because there's no one there to stop you."

Dubliners have already begun to complain on Twitter over the ads, with people calling on others to rip the adverts down.

However the posters have had a surge of positive responses on the Facebook page for Youth Defence, with many praising the 'eye catching' nature of the campaign.

Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute, who are co-sponsoring the nationwide campaign with Youth Defence, said the posters were inspired by a woman who had had an abortion.

"She told me that she felt her life was torn apart by the abortion, and that her baby's life was torn apart as well. I thought it was a powerful description of the reality of abortion, which is all too often glossed over in the debate on the issue.

"The truth is that abortion kills babies and harms women, and we're using this campaign to put that reality back into the debate," she added.

Clare Murphy, spokesperson for Bpas, an abortion provider in the UK, told the Huffington Post UK:"There's nothing wrong with in your face advertising as long as it tells the truth and these don't speak to women's experience.

"They are trying to make out that abortion is much more traumatic than it is, although actually it is often is traumatic for Irish women as they have to travel overseas, often alone, to get services they should be legally entitled to at home.

"If this group really cared for women, they wouldn't be putting up these posters."