Britain will see first ever TV advert that informs about abortion

Posted May 20, 2010 by R. C. Camphausen
Abortion has been legal in the UK for more than 40 years, but a planned advert informing women where to go and find such a service still inflames so-called family groups, church leaders and others who call the move 'grotesque' and threaten legal action.
Frame from a Marie Stopes TV advert
Frame from a Marie Stopes TV advert
A television advert that gives advice concerning unplanned pregnancy and explains how and where to get an abortion will be shown for the first time in Britain next week Monday on Channel 4. The ad is being paid for by Marie Stopes International, a non-commercial organization that is the UK's leading provider of sexual health services apart from the National Health Service (NHS).
Starting with an image like the one shown here, the ad in fact poses the question "Are you late?" (with your menstruation) and will then give what the organisation says will be "clear, non-judgmental information" about unplanned pregnancies and the possibility to enlist their abortion services. A look at the Marie Stopes website shows that the clinic offers abortion, contraception and other sexual health services for women, among which contraception advise, pregnancy testing and a wide variety of medical tests related to sexuality and fertility.
However, anti-abortion groups believe that all the ads are trying to achieve are 'to sell abortion' rather than inform women who may feel that they have to make that choice. While the planned "Are you late?" campaign is being enthusiastic received by advocates of women's sexual health and women's right to self-determination, the so-called "pro-life" faction would like nothing better than that the adverts, to be shown at 10.10 pm on Channel 4 on Monday 24, would be banned.
In fact, such a ban does exists for ads concerning abortion, yet it only applies to commercial providers, whereas Marie Stopes is a non-commercial health care service and has been allowed to air ads on TV in the past. What is new is only the topic, abortion, although the word does not even appear in the ads.
The Guardian lets both pro and contra voices speak out with the following words: "Last year alone we received 350,000 calls to our 24-hour helpline," said Dana Hovig, Marie Stopes's chief executive. "Clearly there are hundreds of thousands of women who want and need sexual health information and advice, and access to services." Opposing the ads and describing them as "grotesque", Michaela Aston, spokeswoman for the anti-abortion campaign group Life had this to say: "I can only express utter disbelief that this is being allowed, given the opposition to abortion advertising expressed during the recent public consultation. To allow abortion providers to advertise on TV, as though they were no different from car companies or detergent manufacturers, is grotesque," she said.
There's hardly a news channel or paper not carrying the story today, and it is most interesting to read their headlines. Here are some relevant links: The Telegraph, Sky News, Mail Online.