Abortion ad roils Britain

The commercial, a first of its kind in the U.K., leaves out hot-button words -- but anti-choicers aren't pacified

By Christine Mathias

Published May 25, 2010 11:01PM (EDT)

Last night, something monumental happened, something that has never happened before: An abortion provider ran a commercial on national television in Britain. The ad's content entirely belies the fact that it is the first of its kind, though. There is no preaching, no weeping teenagers being thrown out of the house and no mention of "choice" or "legal rights." The ad is short and to-the-point, hinging on the simple question, "Are you late?" It even ran after 10 p.m., when all the kiddies are in bed.

Sounds pretty tame, right? It is, and you can see for yourself below, but the backlash from antiabortion activists has reached a farcical level of dismay. The antiabortion organization LIFE compared it to car companies hocking their wares and crafted a form letter of protest to the U.K. equivalent of the FCC. The group even requested that the spot carry a kind of black box warning about the "mental health problems following abortion." Note that proof of such risks is profoundly tenuous.

Backlash aside, the commercial has achieved one critical aim: It broadened the scope of conversation by refusing to relegate the issue of abortion access to the status of "political third rail."

Christine Mathias

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