British Advertising Standards Authority OKs Marie Stopes International Abortion Ad
by Steven Ertelt
August 4, 2010
London, England (LifeNews.com) — The Advertising Standards Authority has issued a ruling in favor of a television advertisement by Marie Stopes International (MSI), the large Britain-based abortion business. The decision is drawing opposition from pro-life groups in England and Northern Ireland.
The ASA, an advertising watchdog, rejected complaints about the first UK television advertisements for abortion, which were broadcast on Channel 4.
In May, Precious Life, the Northern Ireland pro-life group, launched a campaign with other pro-life groups like UK’s SPUC urging people to contact the ASA to complain about the screening of advertisements for abortions on television.
Over 1000 complaints about the ad’s misleading nature went to the agency, but it announced today that they have rejected the complaints, claiming the ads did not mislead viewers because abortion wasn’t mentioned.
Paul Tully, the general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), one of Britain’s leading pro-life groups, reacted to the latest decision.
Advertising abortion, whether directly or under the guise of so-called pregnancy advice, is indecent and dishonest. Yet the ASA has approved showing TV ads from one of the biggest abortion-providers in the UK," he told LifeNews.com.
The ASA says the ad is not offensive, thus ignoring the fundamental nature of the ads message which is: ‘We can kill unborn babies’. This message is just as offensive as saying ‘We can kill immigrants’, ‘We can kill pedophiles’ or targeting any other disparaged group. It is simply casuistic of the ASA to hold that the ad isn’t advertising abortion," he added.
Bernadette Smyth, the director of Precious Life, also emailed LifeNews.com in response to the decision.
"This is an outrage to claim the ads did not mislead viewers," she said. "They misled viewers by portraying the Marie Stopes International abortion agency as a organization offering help to pregnant women."
"What they didn’t show was the horrific reality of what they offer the killing of their unborn children, nor did they show the physical and emotional harm suffered by women after Marie Stopes kill their children," she added.
Smyth said that, under the 1990 Broadcasting Act, advertising can’t be offensive or harmful.
"These ads for abortion were offensive to the countless women physically and emotionally damaged by abortion, and lethally harmful to the hundreds of unborn children aborted every day," she told LifeNews.com.
She added, "Marie Stopes International claims to be a non-profit organization, but that fact that they spent thousands of pounds on TV advertising proves they want to make even more money by drumming up demand for abortion. Marie Stopes International is not interested in helping women in crisis pregnancies. They are only interested in selling abortion. "
Smyth concluded: "We have launched a campaign urging the public to bombard the ASA and Channel 4 with complaints about these ads that trivialized the killing of innocent unborn children. We are urging people to tell Channel 4 that they will no longer be viewing their channel unless they can give a guarantee that there will be no further screenings of these ads in the future."
SPUC’s Tulley also added to the reaction, saying the ASA is "free to reflect the views of the broadcasters and publishers who want lucrative advertising deals" but that it is "a great shame that it has not acted more impartially in this matter."
Because the ASA is not a statutory authority it is not answerable democratically or judicially to anyone, nor does it have power to impose any penalties or hold anyone to account.
"The ASAs approval of TV abortion ads highlights the need for Jeremy Hunt, the media secretary, to intervene, as he can stop these deeply offensive ads," Tully said.
The pro-life groups are hoping pro-life advocates will contact both Channel 4 and the ASA with complaints. You can call Channel 4 at 0845 076 0191 and online here. Contact the ASA at [email protected], 020 7492 2222, or here.
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