Campaigners vow to stop Britain's first TV ad for abortion services

The first television advert for abortion services in the UK is to be aired on Channel 4 next week, prompting anger from anti-abortion groups. The advert asks "Are you late?" referring to a woman who has missed her period and directs women facing an unplanned pregnancy to Marie Stopes International's 24-hour helpline, which is paying for the slot.

It will be aired for the first time at 10.10pm on Monday on during The Million Pound Drop, a gameshow hosted by Davina McCall. It will be repeated "around 25 times" until the end of June.

Marie Stopes International said the commercial would "confront the taboo" around abortion. It added it was "sensitive and tasteful" and will not actually mention abortion.

However a spokesman for the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (Spuc) said they would try to stop the broadcast: "Marie Stopes may claim to be a non-profit organisation, but they have a financial interest in drumming up demand for abortion. We are taking advice regarding the legality of the scheduled advertisement."

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said non-commercial providers of post-conception advice had long been permitted to advertise on television. Last year there was a furore over plans to extend it to commercial providers. Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, urged Catholics to protest against the plans, which were put on hold – they are being considered by the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice. A spokesman for the ASA said: "If viewers have concerns about the content or scheduling of the ad, the ASA is able to consider complaints once the ad has aired. However, we cannot act on objections that viewers might have about the service being advertised at all."

The commercial was commissioned by the charity after a study found that only 42 per cent of UK adults said they would know where to go for specialist advice (other than their GP) if they faced an unplanned pregnancy.

The survey also found that 76 per cent of UK adults agreed that commercials about unplanned pregnancy advice services should be allowed on TV at appropriate times. In 2008 195,300 abortions were performed on women living in England and Wales, with 91 per cent funded by the NHS.

Marie Stopes International's chief executive Dana Hovig said: "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."

Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said: "It's great that services that help women with crisis pregnancies will be put into the mainstream but I am very glad BPAS is not footing the bill for it. We have always regarded TV advertising and the glossy private health campaigns as way out of our budget. It is a courageous step and it will be interesting to see what the feedback is."

But Michaela Aston from the anti-abortion charity Life said: "I can only express utter disbelief that this is being allowed, given the opposition to abortion advertising expressed during the recent public consultation. The tragedy is, these adverts will only lead to more abortions and more misery for women."

A Channel 4 spokeswoman said the advert had been approved and it was "up to viewers to form their own judgments".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Brand Marketing Manager - Essex - £45,000 + £5000 car allowance

£40000 - £45000 per annum + car allowance: Ashdown Group: Senior Brand Manager...

Guru Careers: .NET Developer /.NET Software Developer

£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a .NET Developer /.NET Software ...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

Guru Careers: Technical Operations Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Technical Ope...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015