UK MPs with connections to a charity promoting anti-abortion views were found to have been behind deceptive advertisements on Facebook.

Right to Life UK increased its expenditure on the social media platform by ten times in a span of three years. This year, the organization’s advertisements, which often feature sensitive images of fetuses and premature babies, had 13.5 million impressions, a significant increase from the less than 1 million impressions in 2020. During the same period, its income also grew by 60%.
Some of the advertisements contain misleading information, including claims that telemedicine, a policy change introduced during the pandemic to allow women to take abortion pills at home, is “dangerous.” The ads also urge supporters to write to MPs to stop its “atrocities.” However, the NHS has confirmed that abortion is a safe procedure. A study conducted on 50,000 early medical abortions in the UK in 2020 found that the outcomes for telemedicine were the same as the traditional model involving a clinic visit, with no serious adverse events in 99.95% of cases.
“Telemedicine has enabled women to access abortion at early stages and has allowed us to provide more effective, patient-centered support to women in challenging circumstances,” said Clare Murphy, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.
Right to Life UK acknowledged that it ran ads claiming two women died after receiving telemedicine, deeming it “dangerous.” However, the content was based on a Sun report from July 30, 2020, which was later corrected by the paper to clarify that the deaths were not linked to telemedicine. The charity stated that it withdrew the ads as soon as it became aware of the incorrect claims.
Recent advertising from Right to Life UK focuses on a petition to make sex-selective abortion a specific criminal offense. Nevertheless, reproductive rights experts argue that banning sex-selective abortions is ineffective. The Center for Reproductive Rights states that “sex-selection bans do not prevent sex-selective abortions” and may lead women to seek unsafe and illegal alternatives. Such bans are part of the anti-choice movement’s long-term strategy to undermine women’s reproductive autonomy, it adds.
In 2020 and 2021, Right to Life UK ran paid advertisements urging supporters to prevent the introduction of “extreme” abortion laws during attempts to fully decriminalize abortion. The ads claimed that MPs would be voting to “introduce abortion, for any reason, up to birth” if the amendment in question removed the legal restrictions outlined in the 1967 Abortion Act. However, abortion is already legally available in the UK within the exemptions specified in the 1967 Abortion Act, although it remains a criminal offense under the Offences Against the Persons Act. In June 2023, a woman received a 28-month prison sentence for having an abortion after the 24-week time limit.
Labour MP Stella Creasy has tabled an amendment to the criminal justice bill seeking to decriminalize abortion in England and Wales to align with Northern Ireland. Her colleague Diana Johnson MP has also submitted an amendment to remove women from criminal law concerning abortion. Creasy clarified that a vote for decriminalization does not imply support for abortion up to birth, as some have claimed. Northern Ireland already decriminalized abortion in March 2020, allowing terminations on demand up to 12 weeks of pregnancy and under certain circumstances after 12 weeks.

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