Hijacking of the abortion debate: How pro-choice campaigners are backing sex clinic TV adverts

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Pro-abortion groups were last night accused of hijacking public policy so that abortion services and condoms can be advertised on television. 

It was revealed yesterday that watchdogs plan to allow the promotion of abortion clinics and condoms before the 9pm watershed. 

The review was launched in response to a request from the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV, or IAG, set up by the Government in 2003. 

The group specifically called for greater freedom to advertise condoms on television. 
But the quango is also packed with supporters of abortion clinics. 

Campaigners say it does not contain a single representative from groups who support traditional family units. 

Yesterday, a number of the IAG's key members lined up to support the liberalisation of the advertising of abortion services and condoms. 

'The group does not contain a single representative from any organisation that promotes the traditional family based on marriage. 

'Nor are any of its members known for their support of education programmes aimed at encouraging young people to save sex for marriage. The fact that the group's members represent such a narrow spectrum of opinion raises questions about its true independence.' 

They included Julie Bentley, who is chief executive of the Family Planning Association, Ann Furedi of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, and Simon Blake, of the Brook sexual health advice service. 

Norman Wells of the campaign group Family Education Trust said pro-abortionists on the IAG and beyond were attempting to force through their own agenda. 

'Given that the IAG is formed of individuals and representatives of organisations wedded to the idea that the answer to high teenage conception rates is more sex education and easier availability of contraception and abortion, it is concerning to see it exercising a disproportionate influence on public policy,' he said.

Advocates of advertising liberalisation also face opposition from church leaders and Tory MPs. 

Peter Kearney, a spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland, said: 'This advertising would fly in the face of all the assurances given when abortion was legalised that it would be for extreme and exceptional cases only.'

Tory MP Anne Widdecombe said allowing TV advertising suggests 'abortion is just like any other consumer product'. She added: 'We've never had such a high rate of teenage pregnancy and we also have never had so much sex education and talking about freely available contraception.' 

At least eight of the IAG's 27 members, who are nominated by ministers, are involved in proabortion groups or have worked in NHS regimes providing abortions. 

The chairman is the president of the pro-abortion Family Planning Association, Baroness Joyce Gould. 

Four others have ties to the same group. Three members are linked to Brook, a charity providing sexual health advice to teenagers. 

Others have ties to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which provides a quarter of all abortions in England and Wales. 

IAG has called for tests on sex for children as young as five, and compulsory education on contraception and sexual infections such as chlamydia from the age of 11. 

Members also appeared before MPs to press them to allow women to have abortions at home. 

The chief executive of the Family Planning Association and IAG member Julie Bentley yesterday backed the TV advertising of condoms and abortion services. She said she wanted to see a 'clear message that condoms are important in protecting our health'. 

On abortion services, she said: 'It is crucial that women who are pregnant have access to high quality accurate information about all of their choices. Ideally from a range of different, reliable sources.'  continues here

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