ASA clears TV ad by Marie Stopes

The UK’s first television advertisement for an abortion service provider has been cleared by the advertising watchdog after an orchestrated campaign by pro-life campaigners led to more than 4,000 complaints.

Marie Stopes abortion advert
Marie Stopes abortion advert

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 1,054 formal complaints from viewers that complained the ad for Marie Stopes International was offensive, promoted abortion and encouraged promiscuity.

It also received a petition with over 3,000 signatories organised by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUK).

The ad for the sexual healthcare services charity, launched in May, offers women advice if they think they are pregnant and are “not sure what to do”. It did not mention abortion.

Ads for non-commercial “post-conception” pregnancy advice services are currently allowed on TV.

The ASA ruled the ad offered general advice on options, which might include abortion but did not “advocated any particular choice or course of action over another”.

It adds the spot did not encourage promiscuity because the women featured were shown in everyday settings and not “presented in a glamorous way”.

Marie Stopes says in a statement that the ads were “justified and in the interest of women everywhere”. It adds that “every possible care” was taken to ensure the ad was “sensitively” produced and complied with ASA codes.

SPUK has launched a leaflet campaign asking people to put pressure on Government to intervene and ban future broadcast of the ad.

A spokesman accused the ASA of interpreting the advertising codes too literally.

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