Britain is about to get it`s first abortion advertisement in the form of a 30 second video from sexual health clinic Marie Slopes International – to air next Thursday 24 May on Ch4 and will continue to be shown throughout June. Abortion advertisements are banned in the UK by law, but the organization has been able to get around the rules because of their non-profit status, and because they will not make any money from the ad.

The ad is slated to air during an episode of “The Million Pound Drop Live”, a new game show, and doesn’t actually mention abortion directly. Instead, it asks “Are you late?” and directs directs those facing an unplanned pregnancy to Marie Stopes International’s 24-hour helpline.MSI, which earned around £60 million from abortions and other sexual health and reproductive services in 2008, claims it will “confront the taboo” as well as raising awareness of sexual health and will help women to make a more informed choice about their pregnancies.

MSI, which earned around £60 million from abortions and other sexual health and reproductive services in 2008, claim the campaign will help women to make a more informed choice about their pregnancies and sexual health.

It will run in England, Scotland and Wales but not Northern Ireland as abortion is only allowed in northern Ireland on medical grounds.

Some Pro-life opponents of the ad are threatening to take legal action and warned that it is a cynical attempt to normalise abortions.

Mike Judge, Head of Communications at The Christian Institute, dismissed the need for abortion ads.
Mr Judge said: “Given that one in five British pregnancies ends in an abortion, it is hard to imagine that women are in the dark about abortion services.”
“This TV ad is not about information, it is a campaign ad by the abortion lobby to normalise what is, after all, an extremely sensitive subject. A TV commercial is not an appropriate medium for this”,
“Will the ad mention the medical risks of abortion – like financial services have to mention financial risks when advertising? Will pro-life pregnancy counselling services be permitted to advertise? Will this lead to a tit-for-tat ad war on abortion?

“This is not the direction we should be heading in. The decision to allow this ad makes a mockery of last year’s consultation which concluded that rules banning abortion ads for TV should not be changed.”

The Christian Legal Centre said it was poised to take legal action to block it. Director Andrea Minichiello-Williams said: “The notion that the destruction of human life can be advertised freely on TV as a service to the public is outrageous and we will do all we can to stop the advert.”

Society for the Protection of Unborn Children spokesman Anthony Ozimic added: “We are taking advice regarding the legality of the advertisement.”

Michaela Aston, a spokeswoman for anti-abortion charity Life, said: “To allow abortion providers to advertise on TV, as though they were no different from car companies or detergent manufacturers, is grotesque.
“By suggesting that abortion is yet another consumer choice, it trivialises human life and completely contravenes the spirit of the 1967 Abortion Act, which was supposed to allow for a small number of legal abortions in a limited number of hard cases, but has been twisted and distorted to allow for mass abortion on demand.”

Channel 4 has been prevented from screening the commercial in Northern Ireland because the province is the only part of the UK where the 1967 Abortion Act does not apply.
The issue is a uniting one where all of the political parties in the Stormont assembly, except the very small Progressive Unionists, are opposed to the extension of the act to Northern Ireland. And where all the main Churches are also opposed including the Orange Order and Roman Catholic Church.

A leading sexual health charity based in Belfast said it was another example of how women in the province were treated differently to the rest of the UK.

Dr Audrey Simpson, director of Northern Ireland for the Family Planning Association, said: “I think a lot of people would say it is inappropriate to use this ad on television because it would encourage women to have abortions.

“They use the argument that if you give people information it encourages them to go and do something. But women already have access to that information.”

The FPA said it highlighted the need to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland.

MSI chief executive Dana Hovig said that it is “a shame” that the ad cannot be aired in Northern Ireland as well as the rest of the UK.

“Abortion continues to be severely restricted there and women in Northern Ireland are forced to travel to England for abortion services,” she said.

“Therefore the advertising of abortion facilities, their contact numbers or addresses is against the law in Northern Ireland.”

However, anti-abortion group Precious Life welcomed the fact that the ad will not be broadcast in Northern Ireland.

Speaking to UTV News, the group’s director Bernie Smith said: “Commercialising the killing of unborn children is despicable.

“One in three women has an abortion in the UK. This commercial will go on to traumatise women suffering the after-effects of having had an abortion.”

A CHURCH of Ireland (Anglican / Episcopal) cleric has welcomed the decision by Channel 4 not to broadcast in Northern Ireland the UK’s first advert for abortion services.
It was announced this week that the station would not show an ad in Northern Ireland.

A spokeswoman for Channel 4 said: “Marie Stopes International offers a range of pregnancy advice services which include providing abortion services.

“Unlike the mainland UK, abortion remains effectively illegal in the Republic of Ireland and severely restricted legally in Northern Ireland.

“Channel 4 took these circumstances into account when deciding not to broadcast the advert in Northern Ireland.

“This decision was explained to Marie Stopes when they booked the advert and we have not been asked to reverse this decision.”

The move has been welcomed by the editor of The Church of Ireland Gazette, Canon Ian Ellis, but he feels “dismayed” that the commercial will be broadcast to viewers in the rest of the UK.

“Abortion is an extremely serious matter indeed and poses the most profound moral questions,” he said.

“These are far from resolved in the public mind. To allow abortion providers to advertise on TV is wholly inappropriate because it suggests that to choose an abortion is like choosing any other service or product.

“Human life must not be allowed to be treated in this way.”

Such differentials probably exist because of the influence that churches have in Northern Ireland have compared to the secular UK mainland.

The Progressive unionist Party under the leadership of Dawn Purvis issued the following:

In 1984, the now defunct Northern Ireland Assembly debated a motion opposing the extension of the 1967 Abortion Act or anything similar to Northern Ireland. The religious influence with the politicians is reflected in sections of the debate such as “we have to leave the question of deformity in the providence of Almighty God”; “Parents should accept what God has ordained”; “If a deformed child is born after rape it ought to be accepted as the will of God”. (FPA, 1997)

The law surrounding abortion in Northern Ireland is certainly ambiguous, it is based on the 1929 Infant Life (Preservation) Act which was subsequently enacted for Northern Ireland in 1945 as the Criminal Justice (NI) Act.

The Act states that a person would be found guilty of “child destruction” if they destroyed “the life of a child capable of being born alive”. (FPA, 1997) This was presumed to mean that abortion was illegal after the 28th week of pregnancy but there was no clarity as to what happened in the first 27 weeks – was it legal or illegal to perform an abortion?

Another section of the Act stated if the abortion was performed “in good faith” to save the life of the mother, then no person would be found guilty. This is very similar to the views of Protestant churches on the issue of abortion i.e. that abortion should be allowed to save the life of the mother.

In 1938, Dr Alex Bourne challenged the law in England in relation to abortion when it was not necessary to save a woman from actual death. Dr Bourne had carried out an abortion on a 14 year-old rape victim. He testified in court that had the young woman been forced to continue with the pregnancy, she would have become “a mental and physical wreck”. The judge acquitted Dr Bourne stating that the law should be interpreted in “a reasonable sense” and that the doctors opinion and “knowledge of probable consequences” should be viewed as his “operating for the purpose of preserving the life of the mother”. (FPA, 1997)

This became known as the ‘Bourne Judgement’ and entered into English case law as a precedent.

Public attitudes in Northern Ireland have changed considerably over the last number of years with recorded increases in the level of support for abortion at the request of the woman i.e. 25% in 1992 to 30% in 1994. On all grounds, Protestants are more likely to support legal abortion than Catholics e.g. in cases of severe handicap, 74% of Protestants as against 39% of Catholics. On the grounds of sexual assault or the physical or mental health of the woman, a majority of Catholics supported in each case. (FPA, 1997)

The attitudes of Protestants in the surveys, closely resembles the view of the main Protestant churches i.e. that abortion can be justified in cases where there is a threat to the mother’s life or well-being or in cases of rape or incest.

Catholic attitudes vary somewhat from their churches view. The Catholic Church believes abortion to be morally wrong in every case although this was not the view until the late 19th Century. Before that, a female child could be aborted before the ‘quickening’ (i.e. feeling movement) but not a male child. The ‘quickening’ was regarded as the moment of ‘ensoulment’ and occurred on the 40th day for the male child and the 80th day for the female child. (C Coppens, Moral Principles and Medical Practice)

This view changed when the church ruled that “the embryonic child has a human soul, and therefore is a man from the time of its conception”. (Tribunal of the Holy Office, 1889) No exceptions exist in the Catholic Churches view that abortion is wrong even in cases where the mother’s life is at risk. The Tribunal of the Holy Office indicated in March 1902 “that no action is lawful which directly destroys foetal life” even if the mother is in “immediate danger of death”. (C Coppens)

More recently, two Private Member Bills calling for the extension of the 1967 Act, failed to achieve the required fifty signatories.

One of the sponsors, Mr Harry Barnes, a Labour MP was reported to have said that no Bill would succeed without the support of the 18 Northern Ireland MP’s, who incidentally are all male and include a Presbyterian Minister.

In 1990 during one of the debates, Virginia Bottomley, Secretary of State for Health said that “Abortion is offensive to the overwhelming majority of those in the province… there is no will in Northern Ireland for such change”. (FPA, 1997)

The Orange Order rowed into the debate in Northern Ireland after recent attempts to get the Labour government to extend the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.  In a statement they said:

Grand lodge views with deep concern the proposed extension of the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.

As an Institution we believe in civil and religious liberty and the entitlement of all to basic human rights. The most basic human right is the right to life itself. Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights begins with the phrase, “Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law.” Abortion denies this right to vulnerable infants and so contravenes the European Convention.

The official figures alone show that around 550 babies per day are being aborted which we believe to be totally unacceptable, as the vast majority of these abortions are being carried out for reasons other than medical.

While respecting the rights of mothers the Grand Lodge of Ireland believes that a child is a separate and unique person from the moment of conception and so should have the same rights as other individuals. As a Christian organisation we believe that the Bible teaches that the unborn child is a human being with inalienable rights to full personhood. We therefore strongly urge all right thinking people to voice their opposition to the extension of this abhorrent Act to Northern Ireland.

We wish to express the support for the Members of Parliament from Northern Ireland for their stand against any change to the status quo, and call on all our members to support such a stand in their prayers.

In 2009 MSI was responsible for one in three abortions performed in England and Wales, and women with unwanted pregnancies who contact MSI are charged £80 for a consultation.

In 2008 a staggering 215,975 abortions were performed in the UK.

Last month it was revealed that a baby boy who survived a botched abortion at 22 weeks was wrapped in a sheet and left to die by staff at the Rossano Calabro hospital in Italy.

But the day after the abortion the baby boy, who still had his umbilical cord attached, was discovered moving and breathing by a Roman Catholic priest.

He was taken to another hospital where he died the next day.

The latest official figures for 2008 show that there were 195,300 abortions in England and Wales and 13,817 in Scotland.

Some 90 per cent of abortions were carried out at under 13 weeks gestation, while 73 per cent were under 10 weeks.

Marie Stopes said about 80% of the abortions it provided in 2009 were carried out for free on the NHS.

Abortion numbers in the UK are the highest in Europe with 219,336 terminations taking place in one year according to a new study.

Britain also has the highest number of abortions for girls under 20 with 48,150 of the abortions falling into this age group.

These figures, released by the Institute for Family Policies, are the latest statistics available from the European Union for the year 2007.

Britain now ranks fifth in the world for the number of abortions performed, behind only Russia, the US, India and Japan. 

The number of abortions performed in the EU during 2007 was equivalent to the combined populations of the EU’s ten smallest states with Britain, France and Romania accounting for half of the terminations.

Earlier this year the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) indicated that plans to permit abortion adverts had been put on hold.

A statement from the advertising watchdog said: “In March 2009, the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) consulted on a proposal to include a rule in the BCAP Advertising Code about post-conception advice services.

“In recent weeks, Ofcom and BCAP have identified some outstanding matters for further discussion on the proposal.”

“Therefore, when the new Broadcast Advertising Code is published, the regulatory position for advertisements for post-conception advice services will remain unchanged.”

Untimely Death No. 1: Abortion by Rev Ian Brown  
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7307195955.mp3 (4886 KB)

Ever Right To Have Abortion? by Dr. Alan Cairns  
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6210923334610.mp3 (1082 KB)