UK airs first-ever TV ad for abortion services

This is a biggie. We find via Broadsheet that on Monday night, Britain ran its very first TV commercial by an abortion provider.

The ad says:

If you’re late for your period, you could be pregnant. If you’re pregnant and not sure what to do, Marie Stopes International can help.

Despite the simple, uncontroversial language and late night airing, anti-choice folks are still up in arms about it:

The antiabortion organization LIFE compared it to car companies hocking their wares and crafted a form letter of protest to the U.K. equivalent of the FCC. The group even requested that the spot carry a kind of black box warning about the “mental health problems following abortion.” Note that proof of such risks is profoundly tenuous.

Although we can’t be too surprised about this considering the significance of its airing, let’s hope the ASA doesn’t listen to the hype and is confident in just how truly progressive and awesome airing this ad is. In fact, feel free to thank them.

Join the Conversation

  • Ms. Junior

    After reading about this in What We Missed, I then saw my local news station (I live in Los Angeles, CA) covering it. They said that part of Ireland banned the ad, and how it was “bringing the abortion rights debate into homes.” I think it’s interesting (although not surprising) that an ad that doesn’t even mention the word “abortion” is freaking everyone out. As I mentioned, I live in L.A., so I wouldn’t have even known that Marie Stopes International was an abortion provider without all its coverage. I think that the ad itself is great. I like that the ad showed a woman with 2 kids, as well as a young white woman, and a black woman, which sent the message that many types of women are in need of abortion services (or even just that pregnancy scares are widespread throughout different groups of women). And I think that the ad is definitely a big deal, because it normalizes the issue (which is definitely important). One in three women have an abortion, so we need to get rid of the stigma attached with getting one.

  • paperispatient

    I really appreciate that one of the women included in the ad has children. I don’t know if the “only irresponsible sluts have abortions” mentality exists or is as prevalent in the UK as it is in the US, but I think it’s always good to remind the public that all kinds of women have abortions for all kinds of reasons.
    Also, “mental health problems following abortion”? Women can struggle with mental health issues after miscarriages, after giving birth and keeping their babies, and after giving birth and putting their babies up for adoption.

  • beccihiggs

    I don’t know if the “only irresponsible sluts have abortions” mentality exists or is as prevalent in the UK as it is in the US
    Oh, it definitely does, even though by and large our culture and politics are much more secular in general.
    I had no idea this ad existed until, well, right now, but I’m so excited about it. I’d seen Marie Stopes ads in poster form on the Underground a few times, which surprised me but was really cool. So now that there’s a TV ad, well, I just hope it remains and sparks off trends in other countries.
    Rock on, UK, I’m totally proud of my country right now.

  • IAmGopherrr

    Ha, I think abortionn was already in Irish womens homes. They mean that they identify that its going on and that the service is needed.

  • IAmGopherrr

    I’ve always wondered does the UK have as much a taboo surrounding abortion as the US? Do you have zealous anti-choice religious people at the front of the clinics? My impression is that Britain has less christian zealotry than the US. Is that true?

  • Surfin3rdWave

    I’m happy that they are airing these sorts of advertisements, but some aspects of it are a little bit of a trigger for me, because I had an abortion that I didn’t want to have. (I desperately wanted to carry the pregnancy but could not afford a baby.)
    “Not sure what to do” implies that they’ll help you examine all your options. They are abortion providers, not balanced counselors. But I think it’s equally inappropriate for crisis pregnancy centers to advertise themselves as an option for women who aren’t sure what to do.
    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I went to a crisis pregnancy center because I wanted financial help with my pregnancy. They slut-shamed me and told me that God would never forgive me if I “killed a baby”. Then I went to an abortion clinic and they gave me– guess what?– an abortion. And I’ve spent every day sense then regretting my choice that wasn’t a choice.
    I think it would be far more honest and effective to show the same women, minus the ominous music, and then end with “If your period is late, you might be pregnant. If you decide to terminate the pregnancy, know that our clinic can provide you with competent and confidential care.”

  • Radically-Yours

    Wow. I think I’ve seen more offensive ads for food; personally, I thought it was a very mild ad and I can’t figure out what has the antis freaking out.
    If that ad got the anti-choicer’s panties in a wad, the only way to make them happy would be to slap chastity belts on women and give the keys to their father or heterosexual partner. (Such a scary thought…)

  • bbbf

    Hmmmm… the only problem I have with this commercial is that it does NOT explicitly state the purpose of Marie Stopes Int, which is, as you listed above for “abortion services.”
    To me, it is just as bad as a pro-life ad offering services without stating out right that they are pro-life. They mislead the viewer into thinking that they offer a variety of services.

  • bbbf

    I read this after I posted a comment–completely agree.

  • SuchGreatHeights

    Actually I really disliked the ad, because I thought the acting of “Evans” and “Butler” – along with the melodramatic music – gave a sense of desperation and emotional gravity that I think was inappropriate. I’d rather see adverts of confident women who can handle themselves dealing with unplanned pregnancies (and abortion) than desperate women who look scared (Evans) or depressed (Butler). With “Simmons” it is impossible to tell what her mood is supposed to be given the distance so it hardly helps.

  • beckyinshanghai

    I’m agree with you, but having said that I’ve never been to a Marie Stopes Clinic. Maybe they do offer advice for undecided women for example giving them info about welfare entitlements? I guess it still wouldn’t be impartial though.

  • Trixen

    Actually, Marie Stopes do offer a variety of counselling services, on contraceptives, adoption and abortion. They aren’t just an abortion provider – and a representative of the company has been all over TV in the UK attesting to that fact.

  • Honeybee

    To my knowledge, the US is the ONLY country that has such a large number of crazy evangelicals. That’s why so many posts on this site I can’t even relate to at all because the stuff would never happen here, because we don’t have such a community.
    The pro-life stuff in particular on this site really creeps me out, because while we have a small pro-life element in Canada, overall the country is clearly pro-choice and you rarely ever hear about pro-life events, etc. and you certainly never hear about teachers handing out propoganda on it.
    (I realize the debate has somewhat been re-opened recently, but my point still stands)
    I think sometimes people in the US don’t realize just how unique they are in having the religious right. It really does seem to only be in the US that has this problem. It’s not everywhere that’s for sure!

  • uberhausfrau

    With “Simmons” it is impossible to tell what her mood is supposed to be given the distance so it hardly helps.
    i think we are supposed to assume that a mother hunched over a stroller/depressive body posture (though with those types of umbrella strollers even my 5’6″ mother has to hunch over) with a wandering toddler in tow is supposed to show, literally, already having her hands full.
    and this is true. among mothers in real life and online, ive found that the leap from zero to one child comes pretty easily. from one to two, comes easily enough, often it’s just a matter of timing. the leap from two to three just does not happen unless you really really want it to happen. the logistics game changes completely.

  • gingersaurus

    as someone replied above, despite what antis are saying about them advertising abortions on TV just like one would advertise cars, Marie Stopes DO offer counselling and will talk through all your options, including adoption and parenting. The number advertised is a pregnancy hotline to talk about all these options.

  • jgar6

    This is unrelated to this post but to a previous one on late term abortion. I was just wondering that if the majority of women who seek these abortions do so for medical reasons regaurding the life and/or health of the mother? If is this is the case, does the law in most states not make this exception? Sorry if I seem horribly ignorant, just trying to become more informed on this issue.