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Abortion and Advertising

May 24, 2010

When the Tim Tebow & mom ad aired during the Super Bowl, some feminist and pro-choice groups reacted negatively, to say the least.  I know many people in this line of work who felt that Planned Parenthood should take out our own ad, if only we had the extra $3 million lying around (we don’t, but did make our own video).  So I found it especially interesting that Marie Stopes International (MSI), a reproductive health care and education provider based in the United Kingdom, is doing its own television ad.  See the ad here.

Dana Hovig, CEO of Marie Stopes International said,

“We hope the new ‘Are you late?’ campaign will encourage people to talk about abortion more openly and honestly, and empower women to make confident, informed choices about their sexual health.”

Sounds good to me – in fact, it kind of sounds like the “I Had An Abortion” campaign from a few years ago, which resulted in t-shirts and a truly great documentary.

As expected, anti-choice groups (they’re everywhere!) are up in arms.  Some claim this will lead to more abortions, to which I have two questions – first, why is that automatically assumed to be a bad thing?  And second, how, exactly?  Apparently in Britain the numbers are similar to those in the U.S. – it’s estimated that a third of women have an abortion at some point in their childbearing years.  And although I don’t have any statistics on this, I would guess that many more women at least consider it at some point.  Making it easier for those who are considering abortion to speak with a trained counselor about their options, someone who could explain the procedure medically, without judgment, is not a bad thing. 

Rather than link to anti-choice sites directly, I recommend you read Laurie Penny’s commentary at The Guardian: she sums up the hypocrisy nicely.  In short, it’s ok to use women’s bodies and sex to sell things that have nothing to do with health, and it’s especially good when you can do it with completely unrealistic and demeaning images of women, but, don’t ever talk about women’s bodies and health care, or about the possible outcomes of sexual activity, because that would require treating women like full, autonomous human beings. 

As for the ad itself, I love it.  It’s simple and direct.  You see both white and black women, one of them is a mom.  They’re waiting for a bus, sitting in a coffee shop, taking a walk.  In short, they’re living everyday life, and they have a decision to make.  As Helen Rumbelow at The Times explores, women who have abortions do not fit the stereotype; I would just add that that’s as true in the U.S. as it is Britain. 

If you’re facing an unintended pregnancy, you can learn more about pregnancy, prenatal care, abortion, and adoption at Planned Parenthood.  Or, you can think through your options on your own using a workbook from a group of experts.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 29, 2010 4:19 pm

    You’ve done it once more. Amazing article.

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