British TV to carry first abortion services advert

Thu May 20, 2010 9:44am EDT
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By Avril Ormsby

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - An advert offering abortion advisory services will be screened on British TV for the first time next week, provoking opposition from anti-abortionists and religious groups.

Sexual health services provider Marie Stopes International said its campaign, which uses the slogan "Are you late?," aims to confront the taboo of abortion by offering non-judgmental advice on unplanned pregnancies.

Nearly 216,000 abortions were carried out in Britain in 2008, but according to an opinion poll quoted by the not-for-profit Marie Stopes organization only 42 percent of adults know where to go for specialist advice on an unplanned pregnancy apart from to their local doctor.

"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," said Marie Stopes CEO, Dana Hovig.

Its helpline took about 350,000 calls in Britain last year and the organization, which works in partnership with the state-funded National Health Service, performed about a third of all abortions carried out in England and Wales in 2009.

"Clearly there are hundreds of thousands of women who want and need sexual health information and advice, and access to services," Hovig added.

The advert, which features a woman running late, will be shown on commercial station Channel 4 on Monday and run through June.

It does not mention the word abortion, but directs women with unplanned pregnancies to the Marie Stopes' 24-hour helpline, offering post-conception advice and support.   Continued...

<p>A still image from an advertisement by sexual health services provider Marie Stopes International is seen in a photograph released in London May 20, 2010. REUTERS/Marie Stopes International/handout</p>