Thursday May 20, 2010

Marie Stopes Runs TV Abortion Ads in U.K.

By Hilary White

LONDON, May 20, 2010 ( – Pro-Life groups have condemned the airing of TV commercials for abortionist group Marie Stopes in Britain that they say cover up the dangers of abortion and “trivialize” the taking of human life. Marie Stopes, one of the world’s largest international abortionist groups that receives an estimated £30 million a year from the National Health Service, claimed that the ads were needed to “inform” women and help them “confront the taboo” surrounding abortion.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) approved the airing of the ads, which will run from May 24 to the end of June on BBC Channel 4. The advertising of abortion is banned in Britain under the rules of the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP). However, this rule applies to private for-profit companies, whereas Marie Stopes is classed as a charity.

An announcement last year that the ASA was considering approving the advertising of abortion on TV was met with 40,000 complaints against the proposal. In response, BCAP deferred a decision as to whether to allow the ads.

The Marie Stopes ad does not use the word “abortion,” but asks “Are you late?” and directs pregnant woman to Marie Stopes International’s 24-hour helpline. The group in their press release boasts that of the 195,296 abortions carried out in England and Wales in 2008, one in three were at Marie Stopes facilities.

“Following a consultation we have found that it (the ad) is allowed under the current guidance because we are a charity and not a commercial organisation,” Marie Stopes said in a media release.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) said it will be taking advice as to the legality of the ads.

“By suggesting that abortion is yet another consumer choice, it trivialises human life and completely contravenes the spirit of the 1967 Abortion Act, which was supposed to allow for a small number of legal abortions in a limited number of hard cases, but has been twisted and distorted to allow for mass abortion on demand,” SPUC’s Anthony Ozimic said.

The ads, he said, “trivialise abortion. It is an insult to the hundreds of women hurt by abortion every day. Such ads are offensive and will mislead viewers about the reality of abortion.”

While the ads are airing nationwide in the UK, last night a spokesman for Channel 4 said that the decision had been made not to show the ad in Northern Ireland, where abortion is illegal.

An online petition is being circulated that allows the public to protest and request that permission to air the ads be rescinded.

The charity LIFE said that despite the claims by Marie Stopes, the ads have nothing to do with women’s health and they withhold crucial information from women about the dangers of abortion. LIFE spokesman Michaela Aston said, “Let’s be absolutely clear – abortion has nothing to do with sexual health. In fact, abortion is more likely to damage a woman’s sexual health.”

“There is a growing body of scientific evidence supporting LIFE’s forty years’ experience of counselling women after abortion, that the procedure can cause lasting and sometimes severe psychological ill-effects,” Aston continued.

“Marie Stopes are not up-front about this. They sell abortion as a quick-fix solution to crisis pregnancy and largely deny that it has any adverse consequences. Marie Stopes are not empowering women to make ‘confident, informed decisions,’ as they claim, because they are not giving women all the facts.”

LIFE also questioned the transparency of the ASA’s consultation process about abortions ads: “Why did they go ahead with a public consultation period when they knew all along about the ‘charity loophole’? …Who made this discovery and when? And why weren’t we informed about it during the consultation period?”

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