Abortion ad backers had vested interest, MPs say

The groups behind plans to allow TV ads for condoms and abortion services make their money from promoting these things, a cross-party group of MPs has pointed out.

The UK’s broadcasting watchdog recently drafted plans to change the advertising rules after the Government’s sexual health advisory group said it would help lower teenage pregnancy rates.

But the advisory group includes organisations such as the FPA, Brook and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), whom the MPs say are given “major grants to provide contraception and abortion to unmarried young people including under-age children, often without parental knowledge”.

  • Read about these groups
  • Moreover, millions already spent on promoting sexual health and abortion to young people have almost completely failed to stem teenage pregnancy rates, the MPs point out in an Early Day Motion (EDM).

    Tabled yesterday by Labour MP Jim Dobbin, the EDM has already been signed by 13 MPs from across the major parties including Conservative MP Angela Watkinson and Liberal Democrat MP John Pugh.

    The EDM states that “despite the Department of Health doing more than any other government body in Europe to promote abortion and contraception, the rate of under-age conception in this country continues to increase and is the highest in Western Europe”.

    It “calls on the Government to encourage more normal lifestyles with deferment of sexual activity among under-age children and adolescents rather than introducing measures that will further sexualise them”.

    Despite spending more than £280 million on sex education and contraception in the last ten years, the Government is set to fall desperately short of its 1998 target of halving teen conceptions by 2010.

    It is currently consulting on changes to the curriculum which will make sex education compulsory at primary and secondary school level.

    FPA, Brook and BPAS campaigned strongly for these proposals. The groups have all been criticised for their controversial approach to sex education.

    FPA (Family Planning Association)

    Earlier this month the FPA had to withdraw a leaflet aimed at 9 to 11-year-olds which recommended a website discussing sex techniques and mixing drugs, blaming a printing error.

    The website’s section on “sex and relationships” includes advice on “Using your love muscle; Sex toys; Fetishes; Bondage for beginners; Threesomes; Tantric sex; Lubed up; Anal play; The A-Z of sex lingo; Aphrodisiacs; Sex on the beach”.

    The group came under fire last November for promoting a video which tells girls as young as 14 that having an abortion is their ‘right’ and the negative consequences of abortion are just ‘myths’.

    In September family campaigners raised concerns after the FPA launched a new comic-style booklet, “Let’s grow with Nisha and Joe”, to teach six and seven-year-olds about sex.

    The booklet claims to “gently introduce 6-7 year olds to the concepts of growth and physical change, using reassuring stories and pictures”.

    Activities include a puzzle asking children to draw a line from the words “vagina” and “testicles” to the correct areas of a picture of a naked girl and boy.


    Brook, the sexual health advisory service, was behind the plan revealed earlier this month to issue boys from age 13 with cards allowing them to pick up free condoms at football grounds and scout huts without the ’embarrassment’ of asking.

    Simon Blake, Chief Executive of Brook, said it would make condom use “an everyday reality”.

    Last year Brook was responsible for a report which said teens should be allowed easy access to contraception, abortion and the morning-after pill at school sex clinics without their parents knowing.

    British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS)

    In December last year Ann Furedi, Chief Executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) said that an increase in the number of pregnant young girls having abortions was “a positive sign”.

    Responding to the number of abortions among twelve-year-old girls, she said “society just has to come to terms with that”.

    Last Christmas the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) ran a controversial ad campaign encouraging women to stock up on the morning-after pill for casual sex over the festive period.

    BPAS advised women to prepare for the closure of chemists over the Christmas holidays by keeping emergency contraception with their headache pills.

    Mrs Furedi has also admitted in the past that “the embryo is a living thing” but believes its value is only “relative to the woman who is carrying it”.

    BPAS has continued to roll out easier and earlier abortion services. In January a number of NHS trusts revealed they were planning to allow early abortions to take place at GP surgeries.

    Mrs Furedi said the early abortion method is a cheaper option for the NHS and offering it in local surgeries will help women fit having an abortion in with “childcare, work and other commitments close to home”.

    The British Pregnancy Advisory Service is a registered charity heavily funded with public money. Its latest published accounts show an annual income of over £23 million, but only £2,000 of that came from donations.

    Related Resources