Doctors: stop ‘quick fix’ abortion adverts

Television already sends out the message that casual sex is fine and allowing abortion ads would simply offer a ‘quick fix’ for the consequences, warn doctors.

The warning comes as the advertising watchdog considers whether to change the rules to allow abortion services to advertise on TV for the first time. A consultation on the proposals closed on Friday.

A group of doctors is expected to voice opposition to the new plans at a meeting of the British Medical Association next week.

Dr Mark Pickering, a York GP, told a newspaper: “We know that TV is a powerful medium which gives young people messages that sex is fine, sex is great and they are not getting enough of it.

“It is full of beautiful young people jumping in and out of bed with each other.

“Allowing abortion services to advertise on TV would then be saying, ‘Here is a quick medical fix for the consequences of having sex.’ That is giving all the wrong messages and is very disturbing.”

However, Simon Blake, Chief Executive of sexual health charity Brook, said: “Clear, factual advertising about services which provide honest messages is going to be part of shifting the balance away from the over-sexualised media.”

Brook was behind the plan revealed earlier this month to issue boys from age 13 with cards allowing them to pick up free condoms at football grounds and scout huts without the ’embarrassment’ of asking.

Mr Blake said at the time that the scheme would make condom use “an everyday reality”.

Groups such as Brook argue that more information and sexual health provision is the solution to high rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

But in his comments this weekend Dr Pickering said: “If you are not changing the underlying messages, simply saying here is how to sort it out when it goes wrong is not going to help.”

Last week a group of MPs pointed out that as providers of abortion services, Brook and the other sexual health groups whose recommendations led to the plans to allow abortion ads, had a vested interest in the idea.

They called on the Government “to encourage more normal lifestyles with deferment of sexual activity among under-age children and adolescents rather than introducing measures that will further sexualise them”.

Related Resources