After a pro-life campaign group launched a campaign against MP Stella Creasy, the internet responded by donating over £7000 to an abortion support charity instead.
After a pro-life campaign poster targeting Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy appeared in her constituency this week, members of the public, celebrities and politicians alike offered their support.
The poster, which advertised a campaign called ‘Stop Stella’ and claimed to show a nine week old foetus, aimed to tackle Creasy’s efforts to improve women’s access to abortion care across the UK. But it seems all of those efforts may have backfired.
Taking to Twitter on Saturday night, Stella Creasy revealed the impact the poster had had – and it’s probably not what the pro-life campaign group had hoped or expected.
“Dear @cbruk,” Creasy wrote, addressing the campaign group responsible for the poster. “As a result of your antics in Walthamstow this week nearly £7,000 has been donated to @AbortionSupport. Every time you come and harass me or our community we will fundraise more for abortion rights groups so that your work here is literally funding abortions.”
Instead of the campaign’s original intention (which we’re guessing was to turn people against Creasy’s pro-choice message), it seems the public uproar the billboard attracted did quite the opposite. In fact, earlier this week the Abortion Support Network also confirmed they had received £4790 from Clear Channel UK, the company who own the billboard where the advertisement was placed, adding to the grand total.
The Abortion Support Network (ASN) provides information, funding and accommodation to people forced to travel for safe, legal abortions from places including Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.
The uproar in response to the billboard began on Monday when Creasy shared an image of the offensive campaign on Twitter, prompting responses from celebrities including former Stylist guest editor Jameela Jamil.
“What are we doing about this blatant harassment?” the actor, addressing Clear Channel UK (the company who owns the billboard which displayed the advert), the Metropolitan Police, and the Advertising Standards Authority.
“It’s triggering to women who suffer miscarriages, it’s factually incorrect; and this ‘freedom of speech’ is attempting to curtail the freedom of women to choose what to do with their own bodies,” she said.
In a second tweet, she continued: “I’ve said it before and I will say it again, for anyone out there who needs to hear it, my abortion was the best decision I have ever made. I wasn’t physically, emotionally, psychologically or financially ready, and it’s my body, and I made the right choice #guiltfreeandthriving.”
This isn’t the first time The Good Place star has spoken out about having an abortion. Commenting on the heartbeat bill which was recently introduced in the US state of Georgia on Twitter earlier this year, the actress revealed she “had an abortion when I was young” and that “it was the best decision I have ever made”.
“Call me whatever you like,” Jamil added. “I’m not sorry about my abortion. Contraception failed me and I did what was best for my mental and physical health at the time. And I would do it again if I had to. I don’t feel at ALL ashamed, and if you had one too, for any reason, neither should you.”
The images of the Walthamstow advertisement, which were originally shared by MP Stella Creasy herself, show the advert from CBR UK, a pro-choice campaign group which claims to educate society “on the humanity of the unborn child and the reality of abortion”.
Understandably, people were upset by the image, with many pointing out that the foetus on the billboard is probably a lot older than nine weeks (one doctor suggested the picture was “more like an 11-12 week foetus”) – and that the images could be triggering for women who have suffered an early miscarriage. After the initial images were circulated on social media, later photographs showed the billboard covered in white paint to hide the offensive image.
Alongside Jamil’s support for Creasy came messages of solidarity from other MPs and public figures, including Conservative MP Amber Rudd and author and fellow former Stylist guest editor, Caitlin Moran.
“I am with Stella on this, it is grotesque harassment of her personally,” Rudd tweeted.
“This is just shocking harassment of a pregnant MP,” Moran added, “who has always defended women’s rights to choose whether they wish to be pregnant or not #defendstella. Graphic anti-abortion billboards in 21st century Britain.”
“It is entirely wrong to run a campaign against a pro-choice MP like this,” Thornberry said. “To make it worse, this poster is outside a school. And furthermore – yes there is more – the MP you are targeting is pregnant.”
“Just want to say @stellacreasy is a legend,” Phillips added. “Trying to stop her and bully her will only make us, her more than anyone, stand up stronger and taller together.”
The advert prompted complaints to the ASA, who have confirmed they are “currently assessing them to determine whether there are grounds for action.”
Clear Channel UK, who own the billboard in question, have also since apologised for the advert and committed to removing it, after the company’s CEO William Eccleshare spoke out against the advert.
“I am personally appalled by these ads and they should never have been put up,” Eccleshare said. “I can only apologise that a failure in our system allowed it to happen. I am so sorry. The posters were taken down as soon as possible once we were alerted.”
“We apologise for a recent billboard campaign in Walthamstow,” Clear Channel UK said in statement on Twitter.
“We have removed this campaign and are reviewing our internal processes.”