>By Hilary White

LONDON, May 21, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have condemned television commercials for one of the world’s largest abortionist organizations that are scheduled to begin airing next week. The ads for Marie Stopes International will air everywhere in the UK except Northern Ireland, where abortion remains illegal.

Marie Stopes International, a self-described non-profit organization for sexual and reproductive health, will run TV ads for abortion services throughout the U.K. as part of their “Are you late?” campaign which is set to air until June 4.

“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,” said Dana Hovig, CEO of Marie Stopes International on May 20.

The UK’s leading pro-life group, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), has called for concerned people in Britain to contact both their individual MPs and Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, who has oversight on broadcast standards.

A spokesman for the bishops’ conference said, “Abortion is not a consumer service. To present it as such erodes respect for life and is highly misleading and damaging to women, who may feel pressured into making a quick decision, which can never be revoked.

“Moreover, to allow the broadcasting advertising of abortion-referral services is, in effect, to allow the exploitative promotion of these services and is not in the interests of the health or psychological well-being of women.”

John Smeaton, director of SPUC, wrote that the ads “trivialise” abortion and the harm it does to women. On his blog, Smeaton gave a series of suggested talking points for those contacting their MPs, including, “Marie Stopes centres are not advice centres but abortion factories. They fast-track women down a path to abortion, because they have an ideological commitment to abortion.”

SPUC said yesterday that they will be seeking legal advice on how to stop the promotion of abortion by these ads.

Last year, when it was first announced by the Advertizing Standards Authority (ASA) that a “consultation” was opening on the possibility of advertising for abortion and contraceptives on TV, the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) suspended their decision after a flood of over 40,000 protests from the public.

The commercials will air despite a ban on advertising for abortion, due to a loophole in the wording. The draft regulations by BCAP say, “Advertisements for commercial post-conception advice services offering individual advice on personal problems are not acceptable.” However, Marie Stopes was allowed by the ASA to go ahead with the ads because they are classed as a charitable organization, despite carrying out, by their own admission, one in three of the 195, 296 abortions in England and Wales in 2008. The organization receives over £30 million a year from the National Health Service for abortions.

The bishops’ comments were backed up by the head of the activist group the Christian Legal Centre, Andrea Minichiello-Williams, who said abortion and contraceptives, the two main products of Marie Stopes, are a multi-million pound industry that “should not be aided by TV advertising.”

“It is entirely unsatisfactory that the advertising codes supposedly allow these adverts to take place, based on a very narrow reading of the term ‘commercial’,” she said.

“Members of the public will be enraged that such adverts are allowed to be beamed into their living rooms, especially as early as 10 pm, when very many teenagers are around.

“The notion that the destruction of human life can be advertised freely on TV as a service to the public is outrageous and we will be doing all we can to stop the advert from being aired,” she said.