For the first time ever, a commercial for unplanned pregnancy and abortion advisory services will be aired on British television. The commercial, to be screened first on Channel 4 at 10.10pm tonight (24th May), is part of a new campaign by Marie Stopes International.
The ground breaking commercial was created by Marie Stopes International after research showed that only 42% of British adults stated that they know where to go for specialist advice when facing an unplanned pregnancy. The survey also showed that over three quarters of British adults (76%) agree that commercials about unplanned pregnancy advice services should be allowed on TV.
Despite the fact that one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime, the subject is still not always openly, or honestly, discussed. While there is a lot of information about abortion available unfortunately not all of it is accurate or impartial.
The advertisement features a number of women from different walks of life who are “late”. A voiceover says that being late for a period could mean pregnancy. “If you’re pregnant and not sure what to do Marie Stopes International can help,” runs the voiceover. The ad finishes with the strapline “Are you late?”
Dana Hovig, Marie Stopes International’s CEO said:
“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. Marie Stopes International provides such support in a safe, non-judgemental environment. We hope the new ‘Are you late?’ campaign will encourage people to talk about abortion more openly and honestly, and empower women to make confident, informed choices about their sexual health.”
The new campaign has already generated considerable media attention, and has provoked criticism from anti-choice groups. The decision to screen the advert was described as “grotesque” by Michaela Aston, a spokeswoman for the anti-abortion campaign group Life.
“I can only express utter disbelief that this is being allowed, given the opposition to abortion advertising expressed during the recent public consultation. To allow abortion providers to advertise on TV, as though they were no different from car companies or detergent manufacturers, is grotesque,” she said.
Abortion Rights has campaigned for advertising codes of practice to be changed to allow abortion service providers to advertise on television; welcoming the launch of the Marie Stopes campaign Darinka Aleksic, campaign co-ordinator for Abortion Rights, described the advert as an “important breakthrough in the support services on offer to women”.
The commercial will air on Channel 4 from May 24th and throughout June, but crucially will not be seen in Northern Ireland because abortion remains highly restricted in the province.