Abortion providers provide abortions? Whatever next!

Does anyone at the Daily Mail understand how employment works? I ask because of this article: Anger as abortion provider Marie Stopes offers staff free terminations as ‘job perk’. Ignoring the fact that nowadays 94% of abortions are NHS funded – and therefore free anyway – this is some really pathetic non-news.

According to their website, Marie Stopes offers employees free access to “male/female sterilisation, STI, HIV testing, ultrasound, family planning and abortion”. In other words, every service the company provides to customers, including, but in no way limited to, abortion. Besides which, the employees who get these benefits are ones who work for Marie Stopes. If these benefits were not available, they would simply have to fund them out of their salary – which Marie Stopes also provided.

It’s not clear why there’s sudden anger now, either. Marie Stopes has offered this package of benefits to its employees for a decade, according to the article. Why wait until today to complain about it? From the looks of it, this information was first discovered by a Daily Mail journalist (by an extremely tough investigation that involved going to the Marie Stopes website and clicking the link marked “careers”). To support the suggestion of “anger”, the article quotes spokespersons for SPUC and the ProLife Alliance*:

Josephine Quintavalle, of the Pro-Life Alliance, said: ‘Never famous for its sensitivity, Marie Stopes recently shared controversial TV advertising time with a selection of beer brands, rival supermarkets, hair products and well-known confectionary bars.

While we could have a TV channel that showed nothing but adverts for abortion counselling, so they wouldn’t be scheduled next to beer or shampoo adverts, I think ProLife alliance would be even less happy with that idea.

Anthony Ozimic of SPUC meanwhile says:

“Marie Stopes’ macabre offer… shows it is a cynical abortion business, not the supportive sexual health service it claims to be”

Well, no. Providing free abortions – among many other services – to staff is a pretty damn supportive thing to do. Forcing its staff to pay for abortions would be cynical and businesslike.

The Mail quotes a random unnamed Stopes employee before the company’s vice president, and, of course, sticks right at the bottom the information that shows what a load of shit the article is – namely, that Marie Stopes is a not-for-profit charity, that all abortions it carries out are entirely legal under the Abortion Act, and that abortion’s just one element in a whole range of benefits provided.

So, why did the article come out today, not 10 years earlier? Well, I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that the ASA ruled that Marie Stopes’s advert TV advert was legal four days ago, forcing the very anti-abortion Mail to find a new way to attack them. Right?

* The ProLife Alliance originally organised itself as a political party in an ill-fated attempt to get around television content restrictions, the watershed and the rules set by private broadcasters by rewriting its adverts, containing extremely graphic images of aborted foetuses, as party political broadcasts, which makes their complaint about “controversial TV advertising” rather hypocritical. I wonder what SPUC, who denounce Marie Stopes for “its evasion of advertising restrictions“** would make of that.

** This is a clever bit of wordplay. If your advert is entirely legal, well, that does mean you’ve “evaded” the restrictions. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing.

  1. #1 by knightofthedropdowntable on Sunday, 8th August 2010 - 20:59 GMT+0100

    I thought I’d misread that url from the Mail, but I haven’t – take a look at it. The article about the ASA ruling the advert was fine, the Mail title says “Advert not offensive despite complaints”, but the url says “advert-offensive-despite-complaints”. That’s a convenient typo there…

    • #2 by atomicspin on Monday, 9th August 2010 - 0:23 GMT+0100

      Daily Mail urls can be very enlightening. You can see what the headline of an article was when it was first put up – often they change particularly offensive or false ones during the day.

  2. #3 by wickedday on Monday, 9th August 2010 - 0:07 GMT+0100

    That Marie Stopes provides abortion services amongst others is almost irrelevant here. It’s the logic fail that’s truly arresting.

    Premise 1: Organisation X provides Service Y to people free of charge.

    Premise 2: The employees of Organisation X are people.

    Conclusion: Therefore, Organisation X provides Service Y to its employees free of charge.

    Why is this even news?

    Also, this is to some extent a quibble, but it’s a) misleading and b) accepting right-wing framing of the debate surrounding abortion to use terms like “pro-life” for organisations like the Mail. If they were genuinely only concerned for the welfare of potential humans, they would be advocating with all their might for better sex ed, better access to contraception, better resources for new parents and against the shaming of people who dare to give birth while poor, nonwhite, disabled, whatever – all of which bring down the rate of abortion by removing the need for it. As the Mail do none of these things, and tend to be vocal in their condemnation of good sex ed, proper contraceptive access and Those People having kids, I think we can safely conclude that it’s more about policing the shit out of people than any kind of concern for the sanctity of life.

    • #4 by atomicspin on Monday, 9th August 2010 - 0:18 GMT+0100

      I try to catch myself from writing “pro-life” – I agree that in most cases,the staunchest anti-abortion campaigners are less interested defending life than attacking people (i.e., women) whose lifestyles they consider immoral – but that one slipped through.

      Given that the Daily Mail conveniently dropped its anti-choice stance to run the infamously horrible headline “Abortion hope after ‘gay genes’ finding“, I think I can safely swap out that “pro-life” for an “anti-abortion”.

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