Antiabortion ads from outlier presidential candidate raise eyebrows

Antiabortion activist Randall Terry, running for president as a Democrat, is running graphic ads about abortion in early primary states. Free-speech rules allow federal candidates to run uncensored ads.

Cheryl Senter/AP
Anti-abortion presidential candidate Randall Terry being "glitterbombed" by fellow candidate Vermin Supreme at a debate for lesser-known candidates in New Hampshire earlier this month.

Amid the otherwise cheerful holiday TV lineup, some graphic antiabortion ads have been causing viewers to do a double take in Iowa, New Hampshire, and several other states.

Randall Terry, long known for opposing abortion and being willing to risk arrest to protest it, is running for president – on the Democratic side. His campaign is focused on opposition to President Obama for what Mr. Terry calls an agenda of “child killing,” according to a press release announcing his candidacy last January.

Terry acknowledges his campaign is designed to take advantage of free-speech regulations allowing federal candidates to run uncensored ads. “We will use FEC and FCC laws for federal candidates to bring America face to face with this massacre of the innocents,” the release says.

In New Hampshire, the Terry campaign bought about $2,000 worth of ad slots on WBIN between Wednesday and Friday, the Concord Monitor reports. They aired during shows such as “The Office,” “30 Rock,” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”

The campaign expects to spend up to $100,000 to run ads in 40 TV markets, including Boston and Maine, the Concord Monitor reports.

The ads, largely appealing to Catholics and Evangelicals to vote against Mr. Obama, have also been airing in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Nebraska.

They include images of aborted fetuses, sometimes juxtaposed in startling ways with objects such as children’s toys and gravestones.

WBIN has received at least a dozen inquiries about the ads. “Some have found the images graphic and disturbing,” says the station’s political director, Periklis Karoutas. “We simply told them that by FCC law, we are obligated to run any ad from any federal candidate ... that has filed for office. And we’ve found that everyone is actually quite understanding.”

But at least one of the viewers who mentioned the ad on Twitter included the comment to WBIN, “I’ll never watch you again.”

Even without money for ads, candidates who are running to make a point can get a hearing, at least in New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Institute of Politics, at St. Anselm College in Manchester, hosts a forum for lesser-known candidates.

This year, alongside Terry, the forum included 15 other candidates who talked about everything from the possibility of an afterlife to the energy alternative thorium to the idea that every American should have a pony, according to the Union Leader newspaper in Manchester.

The viable contenders for the Republican nomination oppose abortion to varying degrees.

Mitt Romney is sometimes criticized for flip-flopping on the issue, now embracing a “pro-life” stance while previously saying that Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision upholding abortion rights, should stay in place.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry made headlines recently by saying his views had become stronger, leading him to now oppose abortion even in instances of rape or incest.

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