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On April 23rd, 2009 for the first time in UK history an advertisement for the morning-after pill premiered on tv. Unlike the US, prescription drug adverts are prohibited in the UK. The advertisement was allowed to be shown as it is not a prescription drug and can be obtained over the counter in Britian. The advertisement comes in light of successful proposals to allow advertisements for pregnancy services and that condom advertisements be allowed to be shown prior to the 9pm "watershed" that marks the time for adverts of adult content. The morning after pill is available free from GPs on prescription or by sale in pharmacies over the counter at a cost of £24.99.

Needless to say, the advertisement was opposed by anti-choice political and religious groups and provoked hostile response in the right-wing mainstream media. Pro-choice and family planning organisations have welcomed the advertisements as a way of letting women know their choices.

Here is the advertisement for the morning-after pill. I want to stress that this is not an endorsement of this product as opposed to others that are on the market. I am providing the link so that people can actually see the advertisement that has generated so much controversy over here:

http://www.youtube.com/...

Marie Stopes International backed the advert, its spokewoman, Emily James saying:

We are delighted emergency contraception, a vital component in the prevention of unintended pregnancies, will be advertised on tv.

.

The FPA (formerly the family planning association) stressed the importance of information discussing that women know that the morning after pill was most effective within the first 24 hours after unprotected sex and that it was available from GP, contraceptive clinics and pharmacies. It has campaigned that the pill should be made available to people in advance.

http://www.nursinginpractice.com/...

Responses from anti-abortion religious groups have been negative to say the least:

Having failed to get the medicine prohibited from over the counter sales (2001) and attempts to stop the advertisement from appearing on tv and fighting a losing battle to prevent abortion service providers from advertising on tv and condom adverts from being shown before 9 pm, groups like the Prolife Alliance, Christian Concern for our Nation (CCFON) and Society for Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) have been reduced to making false claims about the product.

CCFON expressed concern about further liberalisation towards abortifacients, arguing that it is a movement towards abortion on demand and of course, that it will lead to increases in sexual promiscuity, sexual irresponsibility and easier transmission of stds:

http://www.ccfon.org/...

The ProLife Alliance accused the makers of levonelle as trying to disguise the product which they argue to be an abortifacient and "causing abortions of foetuses that have already been conceived" as a contraceptive.

SPUC has argued that since women do not know when they ovulate, women who take morning after pills cannot be certain whether they have prevented ovulation or caused an abortion
http://www.spuc.org.uk/...

These organisations insist that the product is an abortifacient (and of course will increase sexually transmitted diseases), but Bayer-Schering (the makers of the product) have denied that the drug is an abortifacient as it is "not effective once implantation has occurred and has not effect on an established pregnancy." http://www.brandrepublic.com/...

The response of the press has been rather interesting
:

Leading the charge is the Daily Telegraph stating that the advertisement will of course lead to an increase in teenage pregnancy and literally citing either the company or anti-abortion campaigners such as Ann Widdecombe (who famously left the Church of England when they allowed women priests)

This will make casual sex even more prevalent. Young people will think there are no consequences to having sex. [...] We know that teenagers are watching television well after 9pm. The result of this will be even more teenagers engaging in unprotected sex with all its consequences.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/...
From the Sun, we have the usual inflammatory headline "Shock Advert 'Promotes' Sex" from the comments of the ProLife Association, but they do have a quote from Marie Stopes International.

http://www.thesun.co.uk/...

The Daily Mail gave both sides and Bayer-Schering a chance for a statement, but lead with the furious opposition to the advert as its headline in the article:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/...

According to the Daily Mirror, "radio phone-in shows had hundreds of calls slamming the ad."

http://www.mirror.co.uk/...

Given that millions of viewers saw the advertisement, this is probably indication that most Britons are rather unconcerned irrespective of the hysteria of anti-abortion groups and the right-wing media. What is the one common link between the comments and actions of anti-abortion organisations in the UK? It comes down to a distortion of facts and the attempt to keep information about individual choices with respect to reproductive choices and rights limited. How can they argue that they support sex education and are worried about stds and yet oppose that information on stds and condom usage be shown prior to 9pm? The UK has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe and has actually shown an increase for the first time since 2001 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/...). What is needed is access to more information, not distortions and misinformation.

Originally posted to NY brit expat on Sat May 02, 2009 at 04:49 PM PDT.

Poll

Advertisements for the morning-after pill should be

86%51 votes
8%5 votes
5%3 votes

| 59 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for information on reproductive choice? (9+ / 0-)

    Seems to me that this advert is a major step forwards.

    No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable (Adam Smith, 1776, I, p. 96).

    by NY brit expat on Sat May 02, 2009 at 04:50:42 PM PDT

    •  As long as they are advertising churches, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NY brit expat

      it is fine to advertise something more moral.

      Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

      by Demena on Sat May 02, 2009 at 05:23:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've never seen an advertisement for the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mamamedusa

        church (any church) on any major channel in this country. For a country with a state religion, it is a rather irreligious country, just how I like it. Did I actually put up an advert for a church somehow by mistake?!

        No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable (Adam Smith, 1776, I, p. 96).

        by NY brit expat on Sat May 02, 2009 at 05:26:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, you didn't. The commenter was referring (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Demena, NY brit expat

          (I think) to the various religious groups that do advertise on American TV--the Mormons urge people to read 'the word of God' and provide free Bibles and Books of Mormon; the UCC advertises their church with ads saying all are welcome; -- I'm sure there are others as well.

          "Going to church does not make us Christians any more than stepping into our garage makes us a car." --Rev R. Neville

          by catleigh on Sat May 02, 2009 at 06:07:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh, thanks, that literally went right past me ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            catleigh

            I actually checked the you-tube link to make certain that I didn't make the wrong link, it took me quite a while to find the ad, I actually got it off a site that discussed advertising rather than on any other site, so I was a bit worried ... had to go through several places that I normally do not go to get the piece together, so you never know what I could do in my hysteria! :)

            No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable (Adam Smith, 1776, I, p. 96).

            by NY brit expat on Sat May 02, 2009 at 06:11:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I was also being provocative (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              catleigh, NY brit expat

              to suggest that advertising birth control was more moral than advertising religion.

              Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

              by Demena on Sat May 02, 2009 at 06:23:30 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Sorry Demena, it literally went right passed me! (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                catleigh

                After your comment was explained to me by Catleigh, I rec'd the comment as I agree with you completely. I am clearly having a "senior" or middle-aged woman moment (no offense to seniors implied by my spaciness and to other hormonally disadvantaged women).

                No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable (Adam Smith, 1776, I, p. 96).

                by NY brit expat on Sat May 02, 2009 at 06:34:52 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Really (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NY brit expat

          Any fervid claims are advertising. Religious symbols and claims are everywhere.  I guess if you are not an atheist you either don't notice or don't mind.  But to an atheist it gets wearing.

          Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

          by Demena on Sat May 02, 2009 at 06:21:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I am also an atheist and I find being (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Demena

            subject to their "moral" world-view completely exhausting. Surprisingly, given that there is a state religion, they actually are less powerful here in terms of influencing policy decisions; they certainly influence debate, but their opinions do not carry the weight they do in the states and while the media gives them access, very few people would accept that their moral arguments are the only basis for morality. Somehow, in the states, freedom from religion seems to be something that constantly has to be fought for; here if a politician actually said that they spoke to god or that god told them to do something, I believe that they would be laughed out of the commons or directly laughed at on tv.

            No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable (Adam Smith, 1776, I, p. 96).

            by NY brit expat on Sat May 02, 2009 at 06:31:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  How strong are these assholes in the UK? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skywaker9, NY brit expat

    opposed by anti-choice political and religious groups

    I was under the impression that they are quite weak compared to the US.

    The Rethug Party are anti-American traitors. The Congressional Rethugs form a fifth column intent on destruction of America.

    by IhateBush on Sat May 02, 2009 at 04:52:24 PM PDT

    •  Happily not that powerful, although the Tory (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skywaker9, sberel, mamamedusa

      anti-abortion people tried to roll back the time limits for abortion unsuccessfully last year. There are no groups like Operation Rescue and many of the groups opposed to reproductive choice are located in religious communities, especially the Catholic church (which after years of oppression tends to be rather conservative here).

      No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable (Adam Smith, 1776, I, p. 96).

      by NY brit expat on Sat May 02, 2009 at 04:57:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It will be interesting to see (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NY brit expat

        When the Tories take over after the next election (which they almost certainly will) what happens....

        "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unknown

        by skywaker9 on Sat May 02, 2009 at 05:00:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am more than a bit worried about that ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          skywaker9

          you would think that after the garbage they spewed last year during the debate on altering the time limits (it is 24 weeks here) that people will be more concerned, but literally Cameron is almost keeping quiet on their more controversial positions ... he will win due to the incompetence of New Labour and less on his own positions which are rather unclear.

          No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable (Adam Smith, 1776, I, p. 96).

          by NY brit expat on Sat May 02, 2009 at 05:04:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Plus the natural swing of British politics (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NY brit expat

            Which typically has the majority party always losing seats until they fall....

            "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unknown

            by skywaker9 on Sat May 02, 2009 at 05:06:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  New Labour has made such a mess of things! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              skywaker9

              their neo-liberalism and support for deregulation, their disempowerment of the unions in the Labour party, their university fees, their foundation hospitals, their academies, their foreign policy catastrophies (Iraq and Afghanistan), their incredibly confused recent attempts at fixing the economy, their complete indifference to public opinion ... argh! the list just goes on and on ... Labour made a deal with the devil when they put Tony Blair in charge of the party and he has left a complete mess and literally alienated their base. The situation with new labour is literally what happens when you completely abandon principles in the hopes of being elected.

              No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable (Adam Smith, 1776, I, p. 96).

              by NY brit expat on Sat May 02, 2009 at 05:13:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  As far as I can tell (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NY brit expat

        while there are some conservative and Roman Catholic pro-life types, there seems to be an almost complete absence of the rabid fundamentalist endemic to the US bible belt.

        •  They tried to start up with the silver ring thing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Richard Lyon

          and there is a small group of evangelicals but they have not made the in-roads that they were hoping to get.

          No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable (Adam Smith, 1776, I, p. 96).

          by NY brit expat on Sun May 03, 2009 at 09:33:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  If that ad were shown here, there would be mass (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catleigh, mamamedusa, NY brit expat

    hysteria.  Our antichoice bozos would be in full cry, like a pack of hounds after a fox.  It is so interesting to see these supposed "antiabortion" people come out against contraception (both the "before" and "morning after" kind). That shows what their true agenda is:  the oppression of womankind.

    Equal "rites" for ALL Americans!

    by Diana in NoVa on Sat May 02, 2009 at 05:07:51 PM PDT

    •  Exactly and they actually, of course, have women (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      catleigh, mamamedusa

      as their spokespeople on these issues to try and disguise the fact; that simply infuriates me! I was impressed with the press attempts to whip up hysteria. Every time I see the ad, I see a victory against women's oppression.

      No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable (Adam Smith, 1776, I, p. 96).

      by NY brit expat on Sat May 02, 2009 at 05:16:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Definitely not an abortifacient. (5+ / 0-)

    No rational person has ever suggested that levonorgestrel (the morning-after pill, marketed as Plan B in the U.S.) could interrupt an implanted pregnancy.

    The American anti-choicers who try to make a case for birth control (including Plan B) as an abortifacient usually refer to the possibility that the drug could prevent a fertilized ovum from implanting in the first place.

    Experimental animal studies and some statistical analyses of human use of Plan B have demonstrated in the past few years that there is no credible evidence that levonorgestrel has any postfertilization effects.  It works by suppressing ovulation.

    •  I think that is why they were so unsuccessful in (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mamamedusa

      stopping the advertisement from being shown. They had nothing but distortions and outright lies to back up their argument. They also lost the battle on abortion providers advertising on tv; they were granted the possibility of advertising as long as it was clear in the ads that they were not abortion providers; so the deliberate confusion sowed by anti-abortionists in the states with deliberately obfuscating messages is simply not allowed here. They also lost the battle on condom ads being shown before 9pm. This will help get information out, there are already good ads on using condoms to prevent pregnancy and STDs from the NHS.

      No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable (Adam Smith, 1776, I, p. 96).

      by NY brit expat on Sat May 02, 2009 at 05:30:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  there are disagreements (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sberel, NY brit expat

    as to when "life begins"

    religion: life begins when egg meets sperm
    ob-gyn: life begins on implantation

    imo, a fertilized egg has the potential for life.  religious beliefs are fine -- just keep it out of govt -- ie: if you think using the morning after pill is a sin, don't take it...if you think an abortion is a sin, don't have one. (the list goes on...)

    bottom line, teach your kids about sex.  the better informed they are, the better decisions they make.

    if they choose to have sex (which some will regardless), inform them that there are consequences -- STD's, educate them about condoms, the pill, the "morning after" meds, etc

    this stategy worked for my daughters.

    •  I agree, access to information is essential (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sc kitty

      and honestly so are parents that teach their children well and are open and honest about sex, reproductive rights and provide support if/when mistakes happen. Honesty, information and openness are the best strategies, especially on something as important as protecting yourselves and your partners.

      No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable (Adam Smith, 1776, I, p. 96).

      by NY brit expat on Sat May 02, 2009 at 06:24:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'll have to say though, this particular (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NY brit expat

    commercial does sort of make light of the sexual act.  It sort of encourges casual sex, if your only concern is getting pregnant, over STD's.  I don't know.  It makes light of irresponsibility, the scene where she wakes up and remembers how and whaT happened the night before then the crying baby on the bus.  I don't know.  I don't think I like it.  

    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

    by publicv on Sun May 03, 2009 at 09:51:46 AM PDT

    •  This advert shows a difference in approach (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      publicv

      between the US and UK. Actually, what the ad raises is a broken condom and fear over having a child that you are not ready for. People have sex all the time, that is a reality; condoms break and birth control fails. The ad does not encourage casual sex as it is unclear as to whether this is a couple or a one night stand, it doesn't even address the nature of the couple's relationship except that they had sex and the condom broke. I would be far more sceptical over an advert that tries to pretend that people do not have sex and that it is not a normal thing rather than kowtow to those who think that having sex is an aberration, we need to move beyond that point. It may make people uncomfortable, but it is real.

      There have been a series of really good adverts here to remind people to use condoms when they have sex to prevent STDs and pregnancy. I think this is an approach that recognises the reality of the situation. What we need to do is to prevent teenage pregnancies (the UK is the worst in europe, but the US is the worst in the advanced capitalist world) and try to protect children from getting stds. This requires education, not condemnation.

      No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable (Adam Smith, 1776, I, p. 96).

      by NY brit expat on Sun May 03, 2009 at 03:37:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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