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Can pro-lifers support Red Nose Day?

Posted by Alithea Williams on 22 March 2017


A few months ago, I wrote a blog post on charitable giving, and another on giving to Children in Need specifically. This Friday is Red Nose Day, the BBC's biannual fundraising extravaganza for Comic Relief. Red Nose Day is something of a national institution - it will be all over the television, there will be fundraising efforts in many workplaces, and especially in schools. This leads many of us to ask if there is any problem with pro-lifers supporting Red Nose Day.

What is Comic Relief?

Comic Relief is not actually a charity itself; rather it is a fund-raising company which transfers all its profits to the registered charity called Charity Projects. The money raised in Comic Relief’s fundraising campaigns is paid out in grants to thousands of exterior charities. Comic Relief organises Red Nose Day in 'odd' years (2015, 2017, 2019 etc.) and Sport Relief in 'even' years (2014, 2016, 2018 etc.). While the two fundraising events may seem different, they are for all practical intents and purposes the same as they both exist to raise money for Comic Relief.

Knowing what you're giving to

I'd firstly like to reiterate some of my previous points on the importance of doing research before we give to charity. Where our money goes is a decision we make - one that matters. A problem with big media campaigns like Red Nose Day, as with Children in Need,  is that they make doing research almost impossible. The list of international grants funded by Comic Relief runs to 17 pages, and UK grants to 23 - it takes long enough to read all the names, let alone doing any in depth research into what they all do. How can we make an informed decision on where our money goes in these circumstances?

Unfortunately, it's not safe to assume that all money given to Comic Relief will go to causes we approve of; apart from the fact that we live in a society that doesn't generally speaking place the same value on life from conception until natural death that we do, it's just statistically unlikely that we'll whole-heartedly support so many causes.

Does Comic Relief actually support abortion? 

Comic Relief has in the past said that it does "not fund, and have never funded, abortion services or the promotion of abortions". While it may or may not be true that Comic Relief does not directly fund abortion services, Charity Projects has a record of supporting all the major UK-based promoters and providers of abortion, such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). The section on Comic Relief in our charities bulletin lists a number of past recipients of grant money, but they include £374, 694 given to IPPF in January 2011 for work in Swaziland, Mozambique and Ethiopia. IPPF's 2011 financial report says that IPPF affiliates carried out over 1.5 million abortion-related procedures in that year.  

What about this year?

As with Children in Need, in would take a huge amount of work to sift through the policies of all the bodies awarded grant money by Comic Relief. However, a supporter has got in touch with a (not exhaustive list) of organisations being currently supported that give cause for concern. £1,500,000 was given to the African Women's Development fund in 2016. Their Health and Reproductive Rights Portfolio makes clear the organisation's support for abortion. Save the Children, which repeatedly makes its support of abortion clear, such as in this report on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health, has been given several large donations. A final example (and there are many more!) is the £806,518 going in 2020 to Action Aid UK, which defines "reproductive rights" as including "the right to make informed choices about whether or when they have children, the right to access the full range of affordable and informed family planning services, including safe abortion."

I guess not then

It appears conclusive that money raised by Red Nose Day for Comic Relief does end up going to charities and projects that provide and promote abortion. It may only be a small percentage of the money raised, but why risk any amount of your hard-earned money being used for this purpose? There are many wonderful charities that tackle poverty and injustice without attacking the rights of the unborn - there is no need to give to Comic Relief  to achieve these aims. I've known some faith schools to celebrate Red Nose Day, to allow their pupils all the fun of the day, but have given the money to another, single charity of their choosing. So if you enjoy celebrating Red Nose Day, never fear - there's no law that says you have to give money to Comic Relief! Do your own research, choose a charity whose aims and practices you completely support, and rest secure that none of your money is going to support abortion. 

Add your comment
  • Fr Paul said:

    23/03/2017 15:01

    Thank you for a great article - very dissapointed in the article below!

  • Maria McGill said:

    23/03/2017 19:43

    This advice from SPUC is very helpful. I very much agree with Father Paul that the response from the Catholic Education Service is disappointing. This a serious matter and schools look to CES for advice, which in this case was entirely inadequate.

  • berrnadette rose said:

    30/03/2017 13:54

    I do not support red nose day because i found out some of the funds go towards abortions ; even if some of the other things they fund are ok it cannot ever be right to give a single penny to that which is wrong

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