Controversy Over Morning After Pill Advertising

Joe Veix

The first ever advertisement for a morning-after pill aired on television in the UK, despite arguments against the ad from an anti-choice group.

Yesterday, the first advertisement for a morning-after pill aired on television in the UK. Somehow, this garnered
controversy.
A spokeswoman for the ProLife Alliance said:

"We are absolutely outraged that without even waiting for the outcome of the Advertising Standards Code Review, Levonelle One Step will be promoted on evening TV, no doubt without even so much as a health warning, let alone an honest description of how the pill in question actually works."

The outrage doesn’t make any sense. During a prime time show in the UK, you can see many advertisements rife with sexual innuendo. Condom commercials are also ubiquitous. One can even see any number of gruesome murders enacted in most television shows.  It’s apparently acceptable to encourage sex, and to portray violent murders (pro-life, indeed!), but it’s somehow, according to the ProLife Alliance, immoral, controversial, and unacceptable for there to be advertisements involving responsible choices with regard to sex.  If television networks choose not to air commercials like these, it’s a dangerous double standard.

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And besides, looking at the Advertising Standards Authority’s codes, it’s clear that these commercials are perfectly legal and acceptable. The codes forbid advertising for prescription-only medicines, betting tips, all tobacco products, guns, pornography, and products that mask the effects of alcohol. So long as the morning after pill is legal and over the counter, the commercials are allowed.

Hopefully this misguided controversy won’t dissuade television companies from making progressive, practical decisions like this.

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