Commercial abortion providers could soon be able to advertise their services on television and radio if controversial draft rules are approved.
Currently abortion clinics can only advertise their services if they are not run for profit.
But now the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) has issued draft guidance recommending a radical shake-up of the rules.
The guidance, which went out for consultation last week, says that private hospitals offering terminations should be able to advertise their services.
The controversial guidance would also require pro-life charities that counsel pregnant women to make it explicit that they do not refer women for terminations.
Joanne Hill, from the pro-life charity Life, said: “To allow commercial abortion providers to advertise on TV, as though they were no different from car companies to detergent manufacturers, is shocking and exceeds the bounds of responsible advertising.
“By suggesting that abortion is yet another consumer choice human life is trivialised and the distress and heartache faced by a woman making this irrevocable decision, which ends the life of her child, is glossed over.”
But Sally Taber from Independent Healthcare Advisory Services, which represents private healthcare organisations, welcomed the change.
She said: “We would definitely welcome this, clearly hospitals want to raise awareness of services they provide, but some might choose not to advertise because of the sensitivity of the service”.
There are currently more than 35 private hospitals in England offering abortion services.
The consultation is due to close on 8 August.
Last year Marie Stopes International aired the nation’s first ever abortion advert.
The controversial ad caused a storm of controversy and generated thousands of complaints.
Last year 189,574 abortions were carried out on women residing in England and Wales. In 2000 175,542 terminations were recorded – more than 14,000 less.