Decision to Allow Abortion Ads on UK TV Draws Ire From Pro-Life Groups

The Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) in the U.K. has made a controversial new ruling that allows private abortion clinics to run ads on TV and radio stations – a move that has angered a number of pro-life groups.

Although abortion ads in the U.K. are already permitted on billboards and print media, this decision now paves the way for for-profit clinics to promote their work on broadcast media, starting April 30. The BCAP explained that they do not see a reason to block the ads as long as they are not harmful, offensive or misleading, The Christian Institute revealed.

However, a number of U.K pro-life groups explained to The Christian Post why they disapprove of the decision, saying that such a move allows these clinics to promote making money from ending human life.

"There is a strong case to be made that abortion advertising per se should never be allowed anywhere insofar as contrary to what most people may believe, abortion has never been legalized under our U.K. laws, and remains a criminal act except if it can be argued that certain exemption requirements are fulfilled, and two doctors confirm that these conditions have been met," Olivia Darby, Projects Manager at the ProLife Alliance in the U.K. wrote in an email.

"Equally suspect is the ruling in the BCAP executive summary (aimed at the pro-life counseling centers) that those who offer post-conception advice services are obliged to specify if they do not offer abortion referral. By what extraordinary presumption can it be claimed that abortion is an automatic option for pregnant women? Advertisements are about what one does provide, not what one does not offer," she continued, noting another facet of the decision.

Anthony Ozimic, communications manager at the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), shared a statement where he claimed the 'pro-abortion bias' of BCAP is further proved by its requirement that advertisements by pro-life pregnancy centers must make clear that they do not refer women for abortions. He also explained that BCAP has admitted to making this requirement based on advice by the Department of Health and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which he refers to as 'pro-abortion' institutions.

"Yet BPAP/CAP have also ruled that Marie Stopes and their ilk (from the British Pregnancy Advisory Services, which he says are Britain's biggest abortion lobbyists and abortion chain operators), will not have to declare that they offer abortion or have a financial interest in abortion. This two-faced decision is blatant discrimination against pro-life centers at the behest of the pro-abortion lobby," Ozimic's statement continues.

A number of pro-choice groups, however, have rejected the claims that the main interest of these ads is to make a profit from abortion.

"Many will be surprised that until now private abortion clinics have not been able to advertise to give women information about options they have following an unwanted pregnancy. It is vital that women with unintended and unwanted pregnancies are able to access, in a timely way, accurate, objective information about all of the options open to them. It seems that television advertising could be an effective way of reaching thousands of such women, and is to be welcomed," offered Naomi Phillips, Head of Public Affairs at the British Humanist Association, suggesting that the mission of the ads is more about helping victims of unwanted pregnancy, such as rape victims.

"One in three women in the U.K. have an abortion in their lifetimes. Like family planning services, abortion services support women's right to decide the number and spacing of their children, and are a legitimate health care service," alleged Marge Berer, editor at Reproductive Health Matters.

"Our remit as a charity deals with the particular circumstances of women facing termination of pregnancy for medical reasons (usually due to a prenatal diagnosis)." explained Jane Fisher, Director at Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC).

"We think it is important that women have access to clear information about what clinics provide. We do not see them as pro-abortion ads, i.e. 'selling' or 'promoting' abortion, rather making women aware of the services available to them," she expressed.

A report by the Department of Health revealed that abortion in the U.K. is on the rise – in 2010 there were 189,574 abortions, which was 8.0% more than the 175,542 abortions reported in 2000.

What is more, a previous study conducted by the group "REPROSTAT 2" analyzed abortion rates among girls ages 13-19 in 25 European countries. The findings show that the U.K. had the second highest teen abortion rates at 22.1 percent and that a quarter of all abortions in the U.K. are from teenagers.