Abortion clinics cleared for TV by advertising body

Positive pregnancy test Not-for-profit pregnancy clinics are already allowed to advertise on TV and radio

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Private clinics that charge for pregnancy services including abortions will be able to advertise on television and radio under new rules.

The Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) said there was no justification for barring clinics offering post-conception advice services.

For-profit pregnancy centres can currently advertise in all media except television and radio.

The new rules take effect on 30 April.

BCAP said the adverts would be allowed as long as they were not harmful, offensive or misleading.

Pregnancy clinics that run on a not-for-profit basis are already allowed to advertise on television and radio.

'Robust protection'

In a statement, BCAP said existing rules on broadcast advertising would ensure general audiences were be robustly protected from harm or offence once the restrictions were removed.

Start Quote

There is not going to be some sort of free-for-all saying 'come to us to get an abortion'”

End Quote Matt Wilson Committee of Advertising Practice spokesman

It said it held a full public consultation last year but did not receive any response from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport or the Department of Health.

Clinics which do not directly refer women for terminations will have to make that clear in their advertising under the new rules.

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) said this was on strong public health grounds.

Spokesman Matt Wilson said: "There is not going to be some sort of free-for-all saying 'Come to us to get an abortion'.

"They are not there to promote abortion, they have to promote an array of services. It is about being responsible, and commercial pro-life pregnancy services will now be able to advertise too."

Darinka Aleksic, from the pro-choice group Abortion Rights, said: "Surveys tell us that fewer than half of the UK population know where to turn when they are faced with an unplanned pregnancy - apart from going to their GP - and a lot of women, especially young women, they're not comfortable about talking to their regular GP about this.

"So it's really important that they have access to objective, accurate information about all their options when they're facing unplanned pregnancy and that includes parenting and adoption as well as abortion."

'Desensitise seriousness'

However, Conservative MP Nadine Dorries said the move would make having a termination seem "as easy as having your lunch".

"What this is actually going to do is desensitise what abortion is and the seriousness of it," she told the Daily Mail.

"That may be great for articulate, well-educated women who know exactly what they want but the more vulnerable woman who is in emotional turmoil is going to be badly damaged.

"Broadcasters will be making profit through advertising revenue off the back of a service which ends life. It's appalling."

Both pro-life and groups which offer abortion advice say this ruling will not see a surge of advertisements on television because more abortions are carried out by groups on behalf of the NHS.

In 2010, 96% of abortions were funded by the NHS, 51% of which were carried out by independent clinics on behalf of the service.

'Right choice'

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), a pro-life group, said advertising would be dominated by groups such as the British Pregnancy Advisory Services (BPAS) and Marie Stopes as they receive funds from the NHS to carry out abortions.

The campaign group said there were not any commercial pro-life pregnancy services as all pro-life groups were charities who could not afford broadcast advertising.

The group added that "Marie Stopes and their ilk" should have to declare that they offer abortion or have a financial interest in it.

"This decision will only serve the abortion industry's money-spinning trade which hurts women through killing their unborn children," added a spokesman.

A spokeswoman for BPAS said: "Unlike anti-abortion agencies, BPAS believes that whatever decision a woman makes - be that to keep or end the pregnancy - is equally valid.

"We are a not-for-profit charity; our only interest is in a woman making the choice that is right for her."

Marie Stopes said it would not be affected by the ruling as it too was a not-for-profit organisation.

CAP and BCAP are responsible for the self-regulation of the advertising industry under the watch of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

In 2010, the ASA rejected complaints about the first UK television advertisement by an abortion advisory organisation.

The advertising watchdog said the advert for Marie Stopes, which ran on Channel 4, did not mention or advocate abortion.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    94. Bentyger
    ‘..If you don't already know, there's no point in discussing it with you...’

    Missing the moot point here – it’s about personal beliefs and letting everybody have CHOICES in life whether you agree with them or not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    judging by the "quality" of the ambulance chaser adverts you can only imagine what this is going to end up like! January sales, 2 for the price of 1! Discount if dole card presented.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    Religion should have No say in this matter. You may believe whatever you wish, as is your right in a free society, but never attempt to force the tenets and ideologies of your faith on others. That way lies war, hatred and the perpetuation of ideas best left in the annals of history

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    Some women like some men are born callous and indifferent to their own actions. To deprive another of a potential life is usually called something other than abortion. The baby committed no crime.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    Morality is dead.

    This sort of thing is inevitable. I personally think abortion is far to easily available but hey-ho.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Comment 21. Scotsgal

    You surely are not that naive! If a person is anti abortion it is usually because they believe the foetus is no different to any other person, so abortion is murder. Therefore, your comment that those who do not agree with abortion should simply not have one, is the equivalent of saying, if you disagree with killing people you should just not do it yourself!

  • Comment number 102.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    I'm not sure I'd want to see these ads on TV, it'd depend what was in them. As long as they aren't using persuasion techniques to sway difficult decisions, one way or the other, I don't think it'd be too bad. But from a taste point of view I'd rather not have that come on my TV.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    The BCAP has indicated that abortion adverts will be allowed as long as they are not harmful, offensive or misleading. Abortion is extremely harmful - if you happen to be the foetus; it offends people of many different faiths - and sometimes those of no faith at all; and calling yourself a 'pregnancy advisory service' is a hugely misleading euphamism. Game, set and match, I'd say.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    58. ommadawn2000 "advertisment of any medical service feels 'wrong' .
    Agreed, and in some ways it's as big an issue as the eternal abortion controversy. US media is saturated with ads for breast augmentation, gastric bands, lipo and calls to 'ask your Dr' about various OTC meds. We should be resisting this commercialisation of health and blurring of the line between medical & cosmetic procedures.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    Have you had a trip or fall or would you like those super size breast implants, do you need a new credit card, whiter teeth, your bad debts written off or would you like an abortion? A new sofa with that and pay nothing now or ever.
    I think I can imagine who they will be aiming these adverts at, the daytime TV crowd or late night students.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    Before you demonise women seeking abortions, try raising your sons to have respect for females & restraint in their behaviour? If it's acceptable to advertise for soldiers for our armed forces & train them to kill, then why should it be illegal to publicise abortion clinics? Perhaps some sections of society still haven't accepted women as anything other than voiceless house-tidying baby factories?

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    Leonard Cohens seen the future and so have I. Where do you draw the line once you've crossed it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    #87 - I hear you on the rules!
    #81 - I hope you are right, but I'm sure MS is making millions and can therefore pay for advertising at primetimes on mainstream channels.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    What is the difference between adverting PCAS services and blood/organ donation campaigns?

    If you don't already know, there's no point in discussing it with you, there is a massive difference, the taking of a feotus' life for one thing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    A woman's life is being balanced against the life of her child. How will a TV commercial be able to convey the gravity of this in the span of time available? And will anybody even try? A TV commercial is unlikely to be able to do any more than directly promote the services of its sponsor. And the sponsors with the greatest income will afford the most commercials. Even handed it is not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    I'm not sure it will make much difference. Wasn't some research published a few weeks ago saying hardly anyone watches TV adverts these days? I certainly don't; I record things on my PVR and fast-forward through the ads. The only person I know who doesn't do that is my mum (who's 81), and I'm fairly sure she isn't the target market for that sort of advertising.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    What is the difference between adverting PCAS services and blood/organ donation campaigns?

    It’s all about taking control & making decisions.

    Look no further than the Republican nom.race in the US to see where zealous personal crusades get you.

    Freedom of choice is important in the West (eg SOPA/PIPA!!) & it's being eroded back to the 19th Century, especially in personal lives.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    The stem cell industry will be a big winner.More abortion = more products

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    I agree that there should be heavy guidelines on this i.e. At an appropriate time of night. However, I think there is a lack of advertising from government on birth control on TV and radio in the first place. Remember you have a remote control.

    Also debate the issue i.e. Should the clinics be able to advertise on TV and/or radio?


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