New guidelines have been published which will allow condoms to be advertised on television at any time as part of the new Broadcast Advertising Code, however a decision on post-conception advice, including the advertising of abortion services, has been delayed due to the volume of response to the consultation.
The new Code will come into effect from 1st September. Among the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP)’s recommendations, condom commercials will now be televised before the 9pm watershed for the first time, in the hopes that increased information and awareness will help reduce teenage pregnancy rates, although they must not be screened around programmes aimed at the under-10s.
In its submission to the Committee, Abortion Rights supported the move, saying “The promotion of consistent and correct condom use is an important form of health education.”
Abortion Rights also urged the Committee to relax regulation on the advertisement of post-conception services, however BCAP have delayed any changes. Although the official Advertising Review recommended that pregnancy advice and abortion providers be allowed to advertise on radio and television, anti-abortion groups have mobilised around the issue.
An overwhelming portion of the consultation responses – around 80% – concerned post-conception advertising, with John Smeaton of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children claiming that such advertisements would “threaten to further commercialise the killing of unborn children.”
Abortion Rights supports reform, as noted in its submission to the Review:
“We believe that the ability of broadcasters to provide clear, accurate information about access to sexual health, contraception and abortion services is crucial for women’s health, equality and choice.”
Abortion Rights has also urged BCAP to ensure that any advertisers of post-conception advice services be required to state whether their service refers women for abortion or not, in order to prevent so-called ‘pregnancy crisis services’, which oppose abortion and are often run by anti-choice organisations, from presenting themselves as impartial and misleading women.