40,000 petitions and comments oppose the idea
A decision on whether to allow television adverts for abortion has been put off by watchdogs following a public outcry.
A proposal to liberalise the rules prompted comments and petitions from 40,000 people, with the great majority opposed to the idea. Changes to advertising rules usually receive up to 300 submissions.
As a result, the bodies responsible for the advertising code have decided they need more time, and have delayed making a decision from this autumn to the beginning of next year.
The drive to liberalise the advertising code would also allow manufacturers to promote condoms before the 9pm watershed. Critics fear advertising abortion would encourage it to be seen as an alternative to contraception and lead to greater promiscuity among teenagers.
Eric Hester, vice-chairman of the charity the Family Education Trust, said: ‘We feel it is not appropriate for abortion to be promoted or advertised on television. A TV advertisement is very superficial and cannot do justice a serious issue such as this.’
Critics also include religious leaders and pro-life groups such as the Society for the Protection of the Unborn child.
However, supporters argue that greater advertising would improve sex education and so reduce teen pregnancy rates. Tony Kerridge, spokesman for Marie Stopes International family planning clinics, said: ‘We do not believe that such adverts will encourage promiscuity amongst young people. Young people are already bombarded with sexual imagery via the TV, internet, music and computer games.’