LONDON (AdAge.com) -- Abortion services are to be advertised on U.K. TV for the first time next week, when a commercial for Marie Stopes International, the UK's leading sexual-health-services charity, goes on air.
In a statement, Dana Hovig, Marie Stopes' chief executive, said: "We hope the new campaign will encourage people to talk about abortion more openly and honestly, and empower women to make confident, informed choices about their sexual health."
A spokeswoman for the anti-abortion charity, Life, said, "To allow abortion providers to advertise on TV, as though they were no different from car companies or detergent manufacturers, is grotesque. I can only express utter disbelief."
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Marie Stopes' commercial follows a review of U.K. advertising regulations, concluded in March, in which the government decided to allow the broadcast of pregnancy-advisory services ads for the first time.
A study by Marie Stopes showed that only 42% of UK adults know where to go for specialist advice about unplanned pregnancy, other than their family doctor. Despite this, the charity received 350,000 calls to its 24-hour helpline last year. Ms. Hovig added, "There are hundreds of thousands of women who want and need sexual-health information and advice and access to services in a safe, nonjudgmental environment."
'Are you late?'
The ad, which shows different scenarios -- a teenager, a mother of two and a woman in her 30s -- asks the question, "Are you late?" and directs people toward the Marie Stopes 24-hour telephone helpline. It will air at 10:10 pm on Channel 4 on May 24.
The TV, poster, digital outdoor, online and direct-mail campaign was created by Icreate4, with media planning and buying by Village Green. It will run until the end of June, but will not be seen in Northern Ireland, because abortion is still illegal in that part of the U.K.