Television Commercials and Abortion: Appropriate?
It’s a highly problematic move which will literally change the way we see adverts. Never before has it been legalised, and never before has it caused quite so much controversy. The Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) have now given mandate to for-profit abortion clinics, letting them advertise their services on television and radio commercials. This will come into force by the 30th of April this year.
What does this mean? Well, the BCAP say this change in regulations will help to inform individuals on the help available for expectant mothers in ways previously unseen. Experts have clarified, however, that abortion clinics will not be able to solely advertise terminations in commercials. They will have to outline the wide range of services and expertise they offer with it. This way, the BCAP argue, abortions will not be advocated or presented in a biased light. This means that abortion clinics’ advertisements will give the “bigger picture” to individuals who need help and will not be “offensive” or “misleading” in the way they do so.
Some might say that this move isn’t important or even newsworthy, and that it’s just another opportunity to advise and inform society on the help surrounding pregnancy. That can’t be a bad thing, can it? Just look at what’s on television and radio commercials today anyway! They advertise gambling, for example. Not everyone agrees with gambling. It’s a bit of a controversial issue. Abortion, too, is surely just another “slightly-controversial-but-still-with-a-market” niche to advertise. Besides, it’s already advertised everywhere else. You only have to visit a public ladies’ toilet to see the widespread advice clinics are already offering, flyers taped to the backs of cubicles. Many would argue that private clinics advertise all the time, in other ways, so what’s the harm in channelling it through television and radio ads?
Here-in lies the problem. Surely, abortion is something which must be reached after long deliberation and careful consideration. A quick 30-seconds commercial will hardly be able to accurately inform viewers and will instead normalise the concept of terminations, rendering them commonplace. Do we want this? Is abortion being portrayed in the right way? Some people think not. Conservative MP Nadine Dorries, for instance, told the Daily Mail it would make terminations look as quick and as “easy as having your lunch.” This isn’t the best news for the vulnerable or uninformed, and is not exactly ideal viewing for young children who are more than likely to be watching commercials after school.
Essentially, it seems like a largely irresponsible ruling by the BCAP. If commercials can’t explain the consequences of such a life-changing operation in 30 seconds, should it even be on television? Let’s be clear: abortion isn’t the issue here. It’s seen in different lights to different people. The point is this: should abortion really be advertised in the same amount of time it takes to market a wii game?