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30 / 07 / 2010 - Barrage of Complaints Leads Advertising Standards Authority to investigate abortion TV ads
In May, Precious Life launched a campaign urging people to contact the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to make complaints about the screening of advertisements for abortions on TV by Marie Stopes International - one of the largest abortion providers in the world.
The ASA has now announced on their website that they have received over 1,000 complaints about a TV ads and have launched a formal investigation and will publish their findings as soon as possible.
The main objections that have been raised with the ASA were:
1. the ad carries a political message because the advertisers actively campaign to change the law on abortion. (Political advertising is prohibited under the TV Advertising Code.)
2. the ad is offensive, for various reasons, including the following:
-because it promotes abortion;
-because of complainants' religious beliefs;
-because decisions about the life of an unborn child are being equated to decisions about consumer goods.
3. the ad is harmful because:
-it will encourage viewers to have an abortion when they have not previously considered that option;
-it will encourage promiscuity, especially amongst young people.
4. the ad is misleading, for various reasons, including the following:
-it promotes abortion, but does not make reference to the physical and mental health risks or physical and psychological effects which can be experienced after an abortion;
-it is unclear what services are on offer; some complainants believe the advertisers offer a full range of advice about pregnancy, whilst others believed they were advocates for abortion.
Some viewers have challenged whether MSI should be allowed to advertise on TV, because:
5. they believe MSI is a commercial company that charges for its services;
6. the ad promotes a Prescription Only Medicine (POM) or a medical procedure, which they believe is not permitted by the Code;
7. the ad is for a medicinal product aimed at children; and,
8. the ad offers a remote personal advice service on health matters;
9. the ad is scheduled at times when children might see it.
Additionally, some complainants objected that the ad is unfair to pro-life campaign groups who they believe are not allowed to advertise. However, the ASA said there is no specific provision in the Code which prevents pro-life groups from advertising on TV so will not, therefore, be investigating that point of complaint.
Also, some complainants have objected that abortion is an illegal act and the ad is therefore promoting a criminal offence. The ASA say the Abortion Act, 1967 provides a legal defence for those carrying out abortions they will not, therefore, be investigating whether the ad is promoting a criminal offence.