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First Pro-Choice ad to air on UK TV
May 24, 2010 6:32 AM   Subscribe

Marie Stopes International will tonight screen the first pro-choice Television advert to air in the UK - you can watch it on YouTube here. Debate on the appropriateness or otherwise if the advert has been predictably fierce. Meanwhile, Channel 4 have chosen not to screen the advert in Northern Ireland, prompting further arguments.
posted by muggsy1079 (29 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's not an advertisement for abortions. It's an advertisement for options.
posted by phunniemee at 6:43 AM on May 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's not an advertisement for abortions. It's an advertisement for options.

Unfortunately, those who oppose such an advert tend to see "options" and "abortions" as synonymous.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:00 AM on May 24, 2010


Should abortion services be advertised?

Yes, of course they should be. But they should not be advertised this way: showing some obviously worried women with the subtitle "so and so is late." without providing any other information other than contact information at the end. The whole thing has a creepy, hiding-in-the-shadow feel. IMHO.

Isn't one of the main arguments for legal abortion is to get out of the back-alley? I think they should be more up-front about what they are advertising.

phunniemee: It's not an advertisement for abortions. It's an advertisement for options.

This is what I mean. This is an advertisement of abortion as an option. Let's be call it what it is and not hide in fear of the reaction. Or am I missing something?
posted by three blind mice at 7:01 AM on May 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


All kinds of things that are flat-out, no-question terrible for you get advertised. An ad about your options if you're pregnant don't seem to be that. I'm not getting what the hoppitamoppita is about.
posted by rtha at 7:01 AM on May 24, 2010


Blimey, that was tame. It's not even identifiably pro-choice (even if Marie Stopes are billing it as an ad. for 'abortion services' for PR purposes).
posted by a little headband I put around my throat at 7:14 AM on May 24, 2010


The whole abortion issue in Northern Ireland is an absolute nightmare. It's currently illegal in nearly all circumstances, but 1500 or so women per year travel to Britain to get abortions done privately. All four main political parties are anti-abortion, either due to evangelical Protestantism or conservative Catholicism, and this is unlikely to change in the near future despite the pro-choice leanings of many young people here. There is some movement within these parties at the younger end of their representation, but not much.

I heard some guy from SPUC (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children - I won't link to their site) on the radio the other day shouting at a woman from the Family Planning Association because she was part of the 'abortion industry' and complaining that this advert was just to raise the profits of Marie Stopes and doctors who carry out abortions.

The advert is pretty rubbish, and it is yet more evidence of the poisoned atmosphere surrounding this issue.
posted by knapah at 7:28 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I thought the ad was good, personally. Having heard about it a week ago (and not seen it until just now) I didn't know what to expect. As phunniemee said, it's an advertisement for options. Unplanned and unwanted pregnancies are no joke, and people - particularly women - need to know where to turn to for advice and support, whether or not they choose to continue with the pregnancy.
posted by different at 7:39 AM on May 24, 2010


I agree, It didn't read to me as an ad for abortion, rather as an ad for someone to talk to about your options (and this may very well include "carry to term then give up for adoption"). Women need to know where they can seek advice.
posted by dabitch at 7:44 AM on May 24, 2010


I can see objections to ads for crack cocaine or snuff films, but how can you discriminate against services that are legal based on some peoples' objections? I don't think much of chiropractors for example, but I can't imagine wanting to stop them from advertising as long as their services are not outlawed.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:46 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


and it is yet more evidence of the poisoned atmosphere surrounding this issue.

By this I meant, "the fuss over this issue is yet more..."
posted by knapah at 7:49 AM on May 24, 2010



It's not an advertisement for abortions. It's an advertisement for options.


The opposition comes from the fact that anti-abortion movement is more accurately described as anti-choice than pro-life.
posted by availablelight at 8:04 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


In the former Yugoslavia, abortions were not only legal, but free under the national health plan. So I asked a doctor there how that became legal. Only a tiny sliver of the population wasn't Catholic. I assumed there would have been powerful opposition to the policy.

"Oh yes, we had those people," she said. "But under Socialism..." and she drew her finger across her throat.
posted by clarknova at 8:08 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the former Yugoslavia, abortions were not only legal, but free under the national health plan. So I asked a doctor there how that became legal. Only a tiny sliver of the population wasn't Catholic. I assumed there would have been powerful opposition to the policy.

"Oh yes, we had those people," she said. "But under Socialism..." and she drew her finger across her throat.


From what I know about the issue, that is a load of crap. Abortion law was liberalised in Yugoslavia as a result of the high number of deaths around illegal abortions.
posted by knapah at 8:14 AM on May 24, 2010


The anecdote was not about the rationale of the policy, but about how opposition to it was handled.

You understand that, right?
posted by clarknova at 8:18 AM on May 24, 2010


The whole thing has a creepy, hiding-in-the-shadow feel. IMHO.

Well, maybe if some frothy moralists with control issues weren't working to poison the entire discussion at every point, they wouldn't HAVE to be forced in the shadows and speak through weird subtle winking and such. Of course, if said moralists weren't around, there wouldn't need to BE a debate on the personal liberties of handling medical procedures, so...
posted by FatherDagon at 8:27 AM on May 24, 2010


* draws a finger across his throat *
posted by clarknova at 8:34 AM on May 24, 2010


Is it kind of naive and silly for me to just be glad that we live in a world where the broadcast of such commercials is even possible? If so, I am pretty much okay with that.
posted by elizardbits at 9:07 AM on May 24, 2010


clarknova, I wrote a response to you and it got lost due to some network screwup here.

I understood exactly what you meant, I was saying that the doctor you spoke to was incorrect. The Federal Assembly (composed entirely of communist party members) just voted it through without regard for public opinion. There was no need to 'draw fingers across throats' so to speak.

I am open to correction if you have a source other than an anecdote.
posted by knapah at 9:16 AM on May 24, 2010


What's interesting to me is that whenever I see a "Pregnant? You have choices, come talk to us!" ad in the US (not a TV ad -- in the newspaper or on the subway) it's always promoting a pro-life counseling center, one of the ones that tries to make it sound like they can help you out with getting an abortion but really just wants to convince you not to have one. This ad is nearly identical to those -- except in who it's advertising for.
posted by Jeanne at 9:32 AM on May 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


Wait, that ad is controversial? And "pro-choice"? And the UK hasn't shown tv ads like this before? Jaysus, what the hell year is it? This seems as innocuous as it could possibly be, and I would've figured that England at least had been showing ads like this since the 70s. I'm so naive.
posted by tula at 9:39 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


England as a rule hasn't bothered. The abortion debate hasn't ever been much of an issue, and abortions have been free on the NHS (with the sign off of two doctors - which in practice means there's no barrier). We're secular enough that with the probable exception of Ann Widdecombe no mainstream politician in Britain (not including Northern Ireland) is trying to change the state of affairs other than round the fringes.
posted by Francis at 9:48 AM on May 24, 2010


The Northern Ireland thing is hilarious. Abortion is legal in the rest of the UK, so if you're on the side that wants to hang out with Her Maj, I don't know what you're screaming about. And if you're on the side that wants to hang out with the Republic of Ireland, while it's true that abortion is not legal here, ads like this are run all the time and they are happy to talk to you about travel to the UK for services.

Deal with the contemporary reality you have, NI, not the antiquated reality you wish for.

I think understanding why this ad is surprising requires a look at the wider social context. Abortion was (re)legalised in the UK in 1967 and made available under the NHS and through private organisations like Marie Stopes. Since then, it has not been particularly politically controversial, and certainly not anything like the US.

In other words, there hasn't been a need to advertise a service everyone knows is available, is geographically available to everyone, is financially available to everyone, and is being utilised at an extremely high rate. (The higest in Western Europe, in fact.)

As to why Marie Stopes went with an ad now, I suspect it's something to do with the election of the first Tory government in a blessedly long time, but since the last time I looked even the conservatives hadn't made curtailing abortion rights a bullet point on their manifesto, I'm not completely sure.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:19 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


In the former Yugoslavia, abortions were not only legal, but free under the national health plan. So I asked a doctor there how that became legal. Only a tiny sliver of the population wasn't Catholic. I assumed there would have been powerful opposition to the policy.

"Oh yes, we had those people," she said. "But under Socialism..." and she drew her finger across her throat.


Ummmm . . . that's bullshit. Apart from the fact that less than a third of the population of Yugoslavia was Catholic (is 67% - 70% "a tiny sliver?"), the population simply has never had much of an anti-abortion stance at all and the idea that "those people" were executed for being anti-abortion is just silly.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 1:22 PM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's not an advertisement for abortions. It's an advertisement for options.

Oh, does Marie Stopes offer pregnancy services like ultrasounds, birthing courses & midwifery?

Or is it just a termination service?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:59 PM on May 24, 2010


Well, a quick googling tells me that they offer STD testing, cervical screenings, abortion, vasectomies, and a few other things, but not ultrasounds etc., no. But you'd presumably go to your GP for that, or get a referral to an OB/GYN.

Why do they need to be all things for all women at all points in their lives? They do offer options: abortion, counseling about abortion, and, presumably, if you decide not to have an abortion, a referral to a doctor who will see to your pregnancy needs, if that's what you need.

ultrasounds, birthing courses & midwifery

Friend of mine here at work who had her first kid a couple of years ago had to go to different places for some of these services! Not all of them were available right there in her doctor's office - she had to get referrals. I guess that means her doctor doesn't offer options either.
posted by rtha at 3:17 PM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fair point.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:31 PM on May 24, 2010


Oh, does Marie Stopes offer pregnancy services like ultrasounds, birthing courses & midwifery? Or is it just a termination service?

Marie Stopes offers a range of services broadly in line with what I recall Planned Parenthood offering in the US: STD screening, contraception, pregnancy testing, pregnancy counselling with all options, pap/smear testing, and general Well Women care. They also offer a similar line of services for men.

So no, they do not offer "just a termination service."

For women who face unplanned pregnancy and choose to carry their pregnancies to term, all pregnancy services are handled by the NHS. The normal route is referal to a midwifery team associated with a local hospital; maternal and fetal health monitoring and scans, and the hospital provides birthing courses. District nurses will visit all new mothers at home after birth to provide in-home support.

Housing priority, benefit payments and specific pregnancy benefits are provided by the local council. Young women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant who wish to continue their pregnancies and raise children have a suite of services that are very well placed to deal with their short and long term needs, and are very well supported.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:38 PM on May 24, 2010


I suspect Marie Stopes is also helpful for women who are sure about what they want to do.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:31 PM on May 24, 2010


Is it really an advertisement for options? Because none of those women look too thrilled to be "late". It makes looking "late" puh-retty dismal.
posted by Blogwardo at 10:54 AM on May 25, 2010


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