Friday, June 19, 2009

abortion advertising: how about a level playing field?

Today, there was a silent vigil outside the offices of the Advertising Standards Authority in London. The reason was a planed change in rules on standards for adverts relating to sexual health that will allow adverts for abortion clinics to be aired on TV.

I say "silent" at the earliest opportunity because other sites are markedly omitting the word. Here's how the Marketing Week website presented the protest two days before:
The Advertising Standards Authority is bracing itself for an eight-hour demonstration by anti-abortion campaigners as its consultation on changes to the advertising code of practice draws to a close.
I've made my position clear in the past: advertising abortion clinics is fine by me, if the field is level - ie, if the side-effects of abortion are allowed equivalent publicity. But although many pro-life sites will ably demonstrate that this is not so, I would go to source, and refer you to the Marie Stopes publication abortion your questions answered [sic]. This is a 12-page document claiming to lay out a woman's options regarding pregnancy, but only on page 3 do we see the options of continuing with the pregnancy in order to keep the child, or to adopt out. After this point, it's all about abortion - which, to me, seems a little dodgy given that Marie Stopes makes a lot of money around the world by providing abortions.

So - why am I against abortion? Isn't it a woman's right to choose what she does with her body?

I would answer the second question with a definite yes. But I remember, in the 1980's, when pro-abortion politicians were asked the status of unborn babies, they would reply that they were "tumours". (I remember - then - London councillor Linda Bellos saying exactly this on a political programme called Question Time.) How can allegedly intelligent people fall at the first hurdle of Science 101? Once spermatozoon and ovum have fused, you have a genetically discrete entity which cannot be equated with mother or father. Kill a human being at this stage and you can kill him or her at...well, just keep an eye on the news.

As to the first question - I am against abortion because of the attrition it inflicts upon human beings, not least mothers. Through Radagast I found a site called Teen Breaks, and saw the frst entry:
I was pressured to have sex, and did it, and got pregnant, and I’m only 13. Well, I just turned 13!! And I got an abortion.

It was sad and very scary, and I haven’t been the same since. I hated it so damn bad...and I used to be the head cheerleader, and I loved it, but now I’m quiet, and I don’t talk very much or anything
I believe these testimonies are invaluable, because they are the antidote to Stalin's dictum that when one person dies it's a tragedy, but the death of thousands is a statistic. So let me add another tragedy:

My friend Kathy (not her real name) had been delighted to find she was pregnant; I'm still not sure, all this time after, why she had an abortion. She seemed ok with it initially, but as the years passed and the chances of having another child receeded, she gravitated ever more towards groups formed of mothers in order to try to become one of the group: she was desperate to be called a mother. The thing is, had she, God forbid, committed suicide, would it have been registered as having been due to her abortion, which was so many years ago?

At the end of the day, should the ASA decide that adverts for abortion services be allowed, the test of democracy will be twofold: firstly, will adverts for pro-life organisations that give women some time to breathe be allowed; and secondly, given that abortions are predominantly funded by the state, will abortion adverts be forced to carry warnings about the many side-effects that have been proved to accompany this procedure, whether immediate or long-term?


  1. If you revisit you will see that the reality for young women and girls is a long way from the ideology of 'choice'. Many are pushed, bullied, coerced and simply abandoned by a culture that wishes for sex without consequences and the utilitarianism of treating others as disposable goods.

    The problem with the 'level playing field' argument is that it assumes that abortion or no abortion are morally equivalent acts when in reality they are not, even if the unborn child is 'just cells or tissue'.

    Carol Gilligan, a well-known and much-lauded 'moral philosopher' created a whole theory of women's moral development based on interviews with women 'agonising' over the decision whether to have an abortion or not. It never seemed to occur to her that for some women, abortion isn't even an option, not because they are 'oppressed', 'ignorant', 'without access to sexual health services' or any other secular platitude.

    For some women, abortion is simply unthinkable because of the humanity of the unborn.

  2. I second the comments above. In pro-life circles here, it is emphasized that the only opportunity for "choice" is whether or not to engage in sexual intercourse. If one can't choose to say "no" in certain situations, then the thing to do is to avoid those situations at all costs, even if it means never going out on a date one-on-one, i.e., always having other people nearby, such as in a restaurant, etc. Might even require not being alone in a car with the opposite sex as an extreme situation, but that, too, can be arranged. Where there's a will, there's a way. We need to educate girls on their options, especially in dating situations.

  3. Thanks for you comments, Radagast and Pam. Rad, I see your point; I need to refine what I'm calling for, which is nothing short of a revolution in how we express our respect for life. And Pam, the distance we are from that was driven home to me the other day, when a teacher in a state school sat at my kitchen table, telling me despondently that she's been told, regarding sex education, that if she mentions abstinence she'll be disciplined for being "judgemental".

  4. I was referring to parents, not teachers, and to the Church. It is their primary responsibility - the teachers in schools should not even be in the picture.


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