Pro-Life Groups Upset With Proposed Abortion Ads Hitting UK TV

Anti-abortion groups are attacking a plan to allow TV ads in the UK for abortion clinics. The proposal that condom commercials will be on the air prior to 9PM is also fueling their steam.
The proposals come as the UK is facing a rising teen pregnancy rate. The changes are being weighed by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee on Advertising Practice (BCAP) watchdogs.

CAP and BCAP have been reviewing the matter for the past 18 months. Sky News reports:

Chairman Andrew Brown said: “Throughout this process, we sought the views of industry and policymakers and now we want to hear from all other interested parties, including the people that matter the most in advertising, the general public.”

Pro-lifers believe that allowing the prime-time television and radio slots advertisements could lead to more promiscuity and result in higher numbers of unborn children being aborted.

At this time only Channel 4 television is allowed to run condom ads after 7:00 in the evening. That public service channel is commercially funded.

Abortion clinics are unlikely to be able to afford advert time space during prime time programming.

The Guardian reports:

“Bcap’s proposed rule on pregnancy advisory services would, in theory, allow abortion clinics to advertise,” said a Bcap spokesman. “However, as this service is normally accessed via a referral from a GP or hospital it is unlikely that we are going to start seeing ads for them.”

That announcement has other pro-life groups up in arms. John Smeaton, the national director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children is one that is speaking out. The Guardian quotes Smeaton’s take of the proposal.

“It would completely disregard the adverse effect of abortion on women’s health. Agencies with a financial interest in abortion will be in a position to buy expensive broadcast advertising, whereas groups which provide objective information about abortion and its impact on women’s health will be unlikely to afford to advertise,” Smeaton said.

“We note the proposed requirement that any group advertising counselling services for pregnant women must make clear if the group does not refer women for abortion. We will be scrutinising the Advertising Standards Authority’s proposals [the watchdog responsible for enforcing the rules] closely for any similar signs of potential discrimination against pro-life groups. The ASA already demonstrated a bias against pro-life groups when it attempted to ban advertisements which stated correctly that morning-after pills may cause early abortions.”

Not only are the Pro-Lifers against the proposal. Conservative MP Nadine Dorries calls the plan “just plain sick.”

Sky News reports that the MP wrote in her blog about the plan.

“I am quite sure that any adverts will depict smiling pretty nurses, gleaming reception areas and leafy car parks,” she wrote in her blog.

“They will not in any way show the fear, anguish, isolation, or subsequent depression.”

Some believe that by having the ads on the telly families will discuss birth control and safe sex more often.

BBC reports:

“Our advice to parents is to avoid the big ‘sit down’ conversations. Seeing these adverts on TV could be the perfect way to get people talking about the issues. It could make it more normal,” says Rebecca Findlay, of the fpa, formerly the Family Planning Association.

Hilary Pannack of Straight Talking, a sex education charity, also thinks that the ads could bring more awareness to the teen pregnancy issue. She is also concerned that some may turn off their TV sets when the ads come on.

The BBC quotes Pannack who also warns that the advertising has to be designed in a way that abortions are not promoted as an alternative to birth control;

“We really have to tackle the underlying cause of the high teenage pregnancy rates. It is to do with self-esteem and self-respect.

“Young girls too often feel pressurised to have sex without protection.

“To change this we need better education in schools and better social mobility.

“Too many young people do not feel they have real opportunities in life that would encourage them to make sure they do not get pregnant.”

Other proposed changes include banning ads for age-restricted video games during children’s programming and shows that target young viewers.

A 12-week consultation will close about the changes for advertising on June 19. The new advert codes will come into play on televisions in 2010.


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