You may have heard about the new advert that was aired on Monday 24th May on Channel 4. It’s advertising the services of the private Marie Stopes clinics.

What makes this advert so controversial?

Marie Stopes clinics offer abortions.

Naturally some have responded very negatively to this advert being aired -so a spokeswomen for Life – an anti-abortion group said: “To allow abortion providers to advertise on TV, as though they were no different from car companies or detergent manufacturers, is grotesque.”

What does the advert show?

The 30-second film does not mention the word abortion but asks “Are you late?” and points those facing an unplanned pregnancy to Marie Stopes International’s 24-hour helpline.

Even so, given that they do offer abortions, there is a certain irony that this advert has been deemed to comply with the guidelines that “Ads must adhere to rules that are designed to protect children and vulnerable groups..”

However, in its favour Marie Stopes chief executive Dana Hovig makes a helpful statement: “Last year alone we received 350,000 calls to our 24-hour helpline. Clearly there are hundreds of thousands of women who want and need sexual health information and advice and access to services.”

These issues are real.

Questions over abortion are extremely relevant in our day.

Apparently now 1 in 3 women will have an abortion.

Like Hovig says: “Clearly there are hundreds of thousands of women who want and need sexual health information and advice.”

My gathering have been talking about this quite a lot recently because we want to be engaging with this issue.

If we are going to care for those around us, women, children, fathers, families – then we need to be engaging this issue, seeing how the gospel impacts these kind of decisions and calling people to the good life that Jesus offers – a life of grace and hope.

But how?

Should we be calling for this advert to be banned?

Well, Dana Hovig of Marie Stopes continues: “We hope the new Are you late? campaign will encourage people to talk about their choices, including abortion, more openly and honestly, and empower women to reach confident, informed decisions about their sexual health.”

This is an issue that is all around us, but isn’t talked about.

And that is a problem.

But this advert actually provides a good opportunity for us to talk about the issue with our friends and neighbours and our work colleagues.

How are we looking to engage this issue as a gathering?

We want to be engaging on all sorts of levels – we want to be a community where women and families know they will be cared for – by providing clothing, toys, homes and money if needed. But fundamentally we want to equip everyone to think through this issue, to see the gospel implications and to be aware that you will know someone who has had or will be thinking of having an abortion.

We want to work out a way that we as a gathering of Gospel Communities can approach this issue as Jesus would – full of grace, forgiveness and hope.