Channel 4 will launch Britain’s first TV commercial providing advice on abortion services when a month-long campaign, with the slogan, ‘Are you late?’, gets underway at 10.10pm next Monday. Marie Stopes International (MSI) says the ad will be “clear, non-judgmental information” on unplanned pregnancies and abortion services.
While Channel 4 viewers in England, Scotland and Wales will see the commercial, for legal reasons the ad will not be shown in Ireland. MSI expressed annoyance that the ad will not be shown in Northern Ireland, while pro-life groups said they supported blocking the ad and were angry that it was being shown in mainland Britain.
A spokesperson for the Family Planning Association (FPA) said it was another example of how women in the North are treated differently to women in the rest of the UK. It highlighted the need to “decriminalise” abortion in the North. Michaela Ashton of the anti-abortion group Life said the decision to screen the ad was “grotesque”.
The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (Spuc) said they would seek advice over the ad’s legality. The MSI campaign follows a study that found that 42 per cent of UK adults knew where to go for specialist advice about an unplanned pregnancy other than their GP.
In 2008, a total of 195,300 abortions were performed on women living in England and Wales and 91 per cent were funded by the National Health Service (NHS). Nine out of ten abortions were carried out at under 13 weeks gestation, while 73 per cent were under ten weeks.
About 80 per cent of the 65,000 abortions provided by MSI last year were carried out free on the NHS, with 20 per cent being paid for privately. MSI charges £80 for a telephone consultation, with prices up to £1,720 for an abortion carried out between 19-24 weeks.
Results for 2008 showed that MSI received nearly £100 million, mostly through government reimbursements for providing “sexual and reproductive health services”. In a release, the MSI said the ad is part of a wider campaign to “confront the taboo of abortion”.
The ad was made by icreate4, media by Village Green and PR by Hill & Knowlton.