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 228.

    Woman love stuff like this. Just take a look at one born every minute. This will be sold as an educational program designed to help people who want to have an abortion make the right decision. Stuff like this should be left behind closed doors....It's just exhibitionism and an easy way to make a quick buck off woman who have nothing better to do than watch live births and abortions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    20 Minutes ago
    All for choice.
    What worries me about the advancement of the private-industry is that it's a likely precursor to the flogging-off of the NHS to fat-cats.//

    What worries me is that some people persist in believing that the public sector is saintly and the private sector evil. European health systems are more 'private' and way better than our lethally crap NHS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    @56 "This is very good news for women who fall pregnant and for whatever reason cannot approach their parents or GP."
    There is no reason a person cannot approach their GP. Your GP is legally obliged not to pass on information to anyone, parents or otherwise, and will give you the best advice.
    Since abortion clinics are paid per abortion, they will flood advertising to get as many as possible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    Can we stop treating women like objects. Isn't abortion "a persons" choice

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    If the British would stop being so prudish and teach children proper birth control this wouldn't be needed. Most kids learn about sex from ill informed friends, TV and the internet. There needs to been proper sex and relationship education. We know what caused pregnancy, and no woman should have to resort to abortion. It can't be something someone wants to do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    Yes... it would seem that this is just the private-sector killing-off the NHS:

    3 Hours ago
    "With an average 550 abortions daily in England and Wales I fail to understand why we need advertising."

    Says it all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    214 Braumeister
    You seem comfortable with the concept that a substantial proportion of the population should not have the option to have a family - ie owing to hugely disproportionate cost of accommodation relative to pay.

    In the states minimum wage workers cannot afford health insurance - they are not feckless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.


    morality is the law, as the law is the rules we have essentially agreed to live under.
    Does your morality change when you move from one legal jurisdiction to another? If you travel somewhere that abortion is illegal, do you suddenly become opposed to it?

    Doesn't make a lot of sense. You need a firmer basis for morality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    As long as it angers some religious fanatics, I'm all for it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    Why the focus on inconvenient unborn children? Thet are not children until they are born alive. What about the foetuses with gross abnormalities? Should we force women to carry and give birth to a baby that will not survive or will be so damaged it is incapable of interaction and where can't tell how much pain it's in just to assuage the conscience of a religiously motivated group?

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    Promote contraception and steer away from the climate of sexing up teenagers and abortions won't be as much of a factor. For those that want one, depending on what their motivation is and how far into gestation they are, I don't see the problem. It's legal and we have too many people here without bringing in yet more unwanted mouths to feed. While we're at it, let's see tobacco advertising back.

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    Abortion is wrong because of the consequences just like war. Both have now been turned into commercial activities and some heavy judgement will come. Even now young men are idle and itching for a trade in the forces, and war is brewing. What you sow you reap.

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    This will trivialise the whole issue of abortion and I think that is wrong. There is no need to adverttise, the rise in abortions without advertising shows if needed women know where to go but advertising may actively encourage women to take this course. I believe nowadays abortion is used as an alternative to contraception and that cannot be right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    I agree that the decision should be the woman's and not some imposed idea of what constitutes morality.This is not a new debate though; the issue here is the commercial packaging and relegation to "commodity" status.
    Nadine Dorries epitomises the hypocritical stance of right wing "moralists".Wonder what her attitude towards benefits for the vulnerable in society is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    Appreciate your point.However, something does also have to be done about access to housing...there will be swathes of low paid who will never be able to afford housing.// Why? Surely if people only produce children THEY can afford, it's better for everyone. Certainly better than the current system where the feckless are encouraged to breed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    @198 'chrislabiff'. Says "All for choice. What worries me about the advancement of the private-industry is that it's a likely precursor to the flogging-off off of the NHS to fat-cats."

    'chrislabiff' makes a valid point. Currently, women in the UK have full access to free contraception and termination. Is this government intent on selling off termination to private companies via advertising?

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    205. Adam

    I am not saying you cant disagree with the law and want to change it. I am saying It pointless calling it immoral, morality is the law, as the law is the rules we have essentially agreed to live under. The argument has no leg to stand on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    It would be great if these ads in the longer term resulted in more women using contraceptives and fewer abortions.
    Yes,but as they are private buisnesses,that rely on unwanted pregnancies to stay afloat,do you think they'll be promoting prevention?

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    Private abortion clinics make the most money from abortions, not from contraceptives or tests that they provide. Abortion is where the money's at, and that's the bottom line.
    Now, these abortion clinics will be able to reach a wider range of pregnant women who are vulnerable and afraid. Ladies, don't give in! Your baby needs you and you are strong enough to bring this new life into the world!

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    I think it is important that women with unwanted pregnancies have access to good information. These adverts will have to comply with strict guidelines and will be of benefit to many women. It would be great if these ads in the longer term resulted in more women using contraceptives and fewer abortions.


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