BY ANNA ARCO
THE INVESTIGATION executive of the Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) has recommended that the ASA reject all the complaints against the Marie Stopes television advert.
The executive, a department of the ASA, claims there were over 1,000 complaints against the advert, but that figure does not include many made before the broadcast, by postcard and by petition.
The executive has repeatedly rejected complaints that it contravened the ASA guidelines because it was “obscene”, “political”, “offering a commercial service”. A source said the ruling was likely to be a “whitewash”.
The ASA launched an investigation after it was presented with over 1,000 complaints.
Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), said: “It isn’t simply casuistic of the ASA to hold that the Marie Stopes advertisement isn’t advertising abortion. The ASA has a strong pro-abortion track record and so this opinion, although disappointing, is not surprising. The power to stop this advertisement from being further broadcast is clearly held by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. SPUC has launched a nationwide leafleting campaign to put pressure on the Government to intervene.” The television adverts, which were aired in May and and June, urged women with unplanned pregnancies to get in touch with a 24-hour helpline for “non-judgmental support, advice and services”.
Although a new Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) has forbidden the advertising of commercial abortion clinics, Marie Stopes found a loophole because of its status as a “notfor-profit” charity. But the charity has an annual turnover of more than £100 million and charges £80 for a telephone consultation.