UK Doctor Calls For Ban On Abortion Clinic Ads, Says They Promote Promiscuity

Illustration for article titled UK Doctor Calls For Ban On Abortion Clinic Ads, Says They Promote Promiscuity

A plan to allow daytime advertising for condoms and abortion clinics has drawn concern from some UK doctors, including Dr. Mark Pickering, who believes that "sexy" abortion clinic ads will only promote promiscuity amongst teens.


"We know that TV is a powerful medium which gives young people messages that sex is fine, sex is great and they are not getting enough of it," Pickering says, "It is full of beautiful young people jumping in and out of bed with each other. Allowing abortion services to advertise on TV would then be saying, 'Here is a quick medical fix for the consequences of having sex.' That is giving all the wrong messages and is very disturbing. If you are not changing the underlying messages, simply saying here is how to sort it out when it goes wrong is not going to help."

Oh, right, "changing the underlying messages." That, I believe, is code for "sex is bad bad bad, wrong wrong wrong, you shouldn't have it, how dare you consider a safe and legal option in the event of an unplanned pregnancy. Shame on you, women! How dare you have sex and then make choices about your bodies! The television has warped your minds and led you down a path of sin! Sinner! Sinny sin sinner!" Methinks this isn't really a medical issue for Pickering as much as a moral one: isn't it a bit strange for a doctor to want to deny potential patients information about and access to safe and legal medical procedures?

Interestingly enough, a quick Google scan also pulls up a UK doctor by the name of Mark Pickering who just happens to be the student secretary for the Christian Medical Fellowship, an organization of doctors who are currently protesting the ads on the grounds that they are "unnecessary and unethical," though it is impossible to be sure if it is the same Dr. Mark Pickering.

The ads will be up for debate next Sunday, when doctors come together for a British Medical Association meeting. One hopes they will decide that information and education is a better option than hiding legal services from those who need them. Teens are going to have sex; at the very least, we should be sure that they are well aware of all of their options.

Ban These Sexy Abortion Clinic Adverts, Say Doctors [Daily Mail]
Submission from the Christian Medical Fellowship to the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice consultation with reference solely to proposed TV advertising of family planning centres and of condoms to children aged 10-16 [Christian Medical Fellowship]


A Small Turnip

It's sort of interesting on legal grounds, too: is it legitimate to advertise for surgical procedures? Here in the UK, adverts for prescription drugs are very firmly prohibited, both in print and in broadcast media - it's considered highly unethical to promote medical services and products that way. And yet I see ads for cosmetic surgery clinics all over the place, telling me I can have perfect boobs for summer.

Not that breast enhancement is directly comparable to abortion; far from it. But it does seem like it might be a tricky ethical area, even if the British Medical Association, like myself, does emphatically approve of a woman's right to total reproductive care. Offering services is one thing; actively soliciting for patients might be ethically sticky.

I don't know. Food for thought, I suppose.