First UK abortion TV ad to face legal challenge

Sexual health clinics group Marie Stopes International has unveiled plans to launch the first ever national campaign to raise awareness of sexual health and confront the taboo of abortion, pending a legal challenge from the Society For The Protection Of Unborn Children (SPUC).

Marie Stopes International abortion campaign
Marie Stopes International abortion campaign

The commercial will promote unplanned pregnancy and abortion advisory services, and is scheduled to breakon Channel 4 at 10.10pm on Monday (24 May) and run throughout June.

The clinics group says it created the “ground breaking commercial” after independent research showed that only 42% of UK adults stated that they would know where to go for specialist advice, other than going to their GP, if they or their partner were faced with an unplanned pregnancy.

However, the advert will be subject to a legal challenge from SPUC who argue that the clinics have a “financial interest in drumming up demand for abortion.” The group have been campaigning to keep abortion adverts off TV screens as the focal point of its White Flower Appeal 2010.

Its survey also revealed that over three quarters of UK adults (76%) agree that commercials about unplanned pregnancy advice services should be allowed on TV within appropriate broadcasting times.

In a statement, Marie Stopes International says: “Despite the fact that one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime , the subject is still not always openly, or honestly, discussed. While there is a lot of information about abortion available unfortunately not all of it is accurate or impartial. Marie Stopes International works to improve public understanding of unplanned pregnancy and abortion, and to help women make confident, informed sexual health choices.”

The campaign will focus on the question ’Are you late?’ and will direct them to Marie Stopes International’s 24 hour helpline, where they can receive non-judgemental support, advice and services.

Dana Hovig, Marie Stopes International’s CEO, says: “Last year alone we received 350,000 calls to our 24 hour helpline. Clearly there are hundreds of thousands of women who want and need sexual health about their sexual health.”

In 2008, 215,975 abortions were performed in the UK – of which 195,296 were for women resident in England and Wales. In this same period, 1,173 women were forced to travel at their own expense to England from Northern Ireland, where abortion remains largely unavailable.

Other groups including TV watchdog Mediawatch and lobby group Life have also expressed fears that the ad will not provide useful information to women considering their options.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here