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 248.

    245. empiredown

    A mockery of the sanctity of life
    The behaviours of our Corporate controlled governments mock that concept incessantly.
    In this context there are other issues to factor in - amongst them, quality of life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    Quality of Life argument part 2.

    Some women in some Athabascan peoples used to kill their baby daughters because life as a woman was so terrible. There are places and cultures today where women’s lot is dreadful. What if, say, Afghan women started aborting their female babies en masse to protect them?

    As I said, aborting to forestall a terrible life is not as simple as it sounds.

  • rate this

    Comment number 246.

    There will be women that possibly won't want their pregnancy carried through but are to scared or to traumatized to seek any help, but if these adverts help anybody deal with aborting a child then it can only be a good thing.
    Of course this will raise the morality question and if it's right or wrong but surely the decision is purely for the woman who has to decide the termination.

  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    A mockery of the sanctity of life and a gross abuse of trust on the part of the would have been mother. No wonder so many women are taking pills for depression with such a monstrous and revolting scene in their midst? This disgraces the entire female gender as much as war atrocities do men.

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    What about the foetuses with gross abnormalities?
    The quality of life argument for abortion is important but is not as simple an issue as it sounds.

    People with Downs Syndrome – some would abort them and justify as mercy; but some with Downs lead fulfilling lives.

    Different people would draw the line very differently.

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    I don't have a problem with abortion but these adverts are potentially in very poor taste, even if well made, I might well be put off watching a channel that broadcasts them.

    I have doubts about their effectiveness, having an abortion is rarely a spur of the moment thing, "Oh that's a good advert, I think I'll have an abortion" doesn't happen

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    > Why the focus on inconvenient unborn children?

    Because they are human.

    > Thet are not children until they are born alive.

    Not too strong an argument – classification as foetus, baby, toddler, child, teenager, adult, elderly is less important than human / non-human.

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.


    But that's caring Capitalism?

    There's a profit to be had in embryos.

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    We don't allow cigarettes to be advertised to help our health and reduce deaths - yet we'll allow companies advertise that want to kill healthy children i.e. the most vulnerable who can't speak for themselves. The mind boggles.

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    While this is likely to lead to more promiscuity by women with money and lower moral values, preventing bringing unwanted children into an already-overpopulated world has to be a very good thing.

    Of course, there will be many opposed to abortion anyway, usually on grounds of religious belief - the very same people opposed to assisted dying at the other end of life's scale.

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    @236 KeelAJ.

    Gender selection scans and termination from scans with the 'wrong' gender already occurs globally - in fact, it has been the case in many countries outside the UK for at least 25yrs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    217.empiredown - "........What you sow you reap"

    Erm, not necessarily - if what you sow rots off & ergo fails to grow you reap nothing come harvest time......

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    will sex selection be next. If not why not?

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    There is no excuse in this day and age to have a pregnancy unless it happend as vile crime, it really worries me that it is going to be taken so casually with young girls and I think it's quite nieve to think otherwise.....we are still talking about a life no matter what way your looking at it, the "choice" of contraception should have been given in the first place!

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    Um - Not thats one impulse buy I had not though of !

  • Comment number 233.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    Why is contraception not advertised? Im sure football clubs in trouble right now may welcome Durex, or other condom manufacturers.

    As the most popular football club globally, how about Man United take a lead and involve condom manufacturers as advertisers in promotion use as the right thing to do? If it doesn't reduce pregnancy, it will help to reduce the spread of unprotected sex infections?

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.


    Can we stop treating women like objects. Isn't abortion "a persons" choice
    Abortion affects the mother, the father (less so), but most of all the aborted person.

    It's the aborted person who is most treated as an object.

    Abortion is inherently non-consensual.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    I've noticed some women's libbers on the board saying it's the women's choice it's her body presumably prospective fathers don't come into the discussion. The reason I'm not in favour of advertising is because you want women to go to their doctor to have more than a discussion with a sales person. Their body is harbouring another life and proper informed discussions should take place not an ad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    # 227
    What worries me is that some people persist in believing that the public sector is saintly and the private sector evil.
    Criteria to assess our "lethal" NHS must exclude, presumably, the costs of cleaning up botch jobs by the, apparently, highly profitable cosmetic surgery industry.
    Shades of banking sector?


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