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UK Bishops Decry Abortion TV Ads. Encourage Women to Make Informed Choices

LONDON, MAY 25, 2010 (Zenit.org).- On Monday, advertisements for an abortion service provider started airing for the first time on U.K. television, reflecting relaxed broadcasting standards. The bishops of England and Wales are protesting.

The commercial, produced by Marie Stopes International, one of the biggest abortion providers in the United Kingdom, asks women, "Are you late?"

"If you're late for your period, you could be pregnant," the advertisement states. "If you're pregnant and don't know what to do, Marie Stopes International can help."

The bishops' conference of England and Wales released a statement in which it affirmed, "We believe that services which offer or refer for abortion -- whether commercial or not-for-profit organizations -- should not be allowed to advertise on broadcast media."

"Abortion is not a consumer service," it asserted.

"To present it as such erodes respect for life and is highly misleading and damaging to women, who may feel pressured into making a quick decision, which can never be revoked," the prelates stated.

"Moreover," they added, "to allow the broadcasting advertising of abortion-referral services is, in effect, to allow the exploitative promotion of these services and is not in the interests of the health or psychological well-being of women."

Consistent opposition

The conference emphasized that for this reason it has "consistently opposed any relaxation of the BCAP [Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre] Guidance on broadcast advertising to allow this."

In fact, last June, the conference submitted its views to a committee gathering public opinion on proposed Broadcast Advertising Standards code changes.

At that time, the prelates publicly opposed not only the advertising of abortion services, but also the proposed relaxation of rules regarding the promotion of condoms and other contraceptives, even to children under 16.

The bishops spoke out again with a statement publicized Thursday, in response to the decision of the broadcast advertising center to allow the commercial that aired this week.

They encouraged and expressed support for women to "make informed choices about their emotional, psychological and physical well-being."

The statement affirmed that the prelates "support a number of charities which do this, in particular the organization called 'LIFE' which offers confidential information, counseling and practical help and support for women contemplating abortion, suffering after pregnancy loss or struggling to cope after abortion."