Friday, April 10, 2009

Responding to the Consultation about the advertising of abortion

The new Archbishop of Westminster wants the 4.2 million Roman Catholics in England and Wales to take a stand against proposals to allow abortion services to advertise on television and radio.

He urged Catholics to respond to a consultation exercise on the proposed changes. The country would not expect abortion to be advertised “alongside a packet of crisps”, he said.

“I would appeal to Catholics to respond to the consultation."

How does one respond ?

It might be helpful if someone published a step by step guide as to how to respond to the consultation.

Why ? Well if you go to the website where the draft Codes and proposals are, it is not easy to see what proposal one should object to, and how to respond.

It seems to be a consultation for advertising professionals and insiders only and not easily accessible for ordinary members of the public.

As far as I can make out (and I hope people will correct me because I found the request for consultations page of the website very confusing):

1. Responses should be addressed to The Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice, c/o Advertising Standards Authority, Mid City Place, 71 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6QT, United Kingdom. The deadline for responses is Friday 19 June 2009

2. If you respond to the BCAP consultation, you must include a consultation response cover sheet available for download at

3. The proposals are set out at BCAP Code Review Consultation

4. You should read the section entitled How to respond to consultations

5. The question to be responded to would appear to be as follows:

"Family planning centres

Question 62

i) Given BCAP’s policy consideration, do you agree that it is necessary to maintain a rule specific to post-conception advice services and to regulate advertisements for pre-conception advice services through the general rules only?

ii) Given BCAP’s policy consideration, do you agree that rule 11.11 should be included in the proposed BCAP Code? If your answer is no, please explain why."

6. The relevant pages of the Consultation document referred to in the Question would appear to be as follows:

7. It would appear from the above that the principle of allowing advertising for "post-conception advice" has already been conceded by BCAP. Therefore the wording of any responses to the consultation would need to be carefully considered.

I am not a legal expert. But I wonder if the authorities have considered obtaining a legal opinion as to whether the proposed change is legal. There seems to be a great deal of technical and complex law surrounding the matter of advertising.

One does wonder also if the British Government have or will need to issue a derogation from the European Directive mentioned above ?

If a derogation from the Directive has been made by the Government, it would be interesting to know when the derogation was made.

I also hope that Mr and Mrs Tony Blair will lend their public support to the Archbishop`s call for a campaign against the proposed changes.