Changes to condom and pregnancy advice advertising?

A review of advertising codes could lead to an end to the ban on condom adverts being shown before the 9pm watershed and enable pregnancy advice services to advertise on the radio for the first time, The Guardian reports today*. While condom ads could be shown before 9pm, they would be kept away from programming aimed at younger children. The proposed measures are aimed at helping tackle teenage pregnancy rates.

These sound like sensible suggestions to me: while we all know condoms exist, advertising them more openly might help reduce some young people’s discomfort at buying them, and it would be great to increase the profile of non-biased pregnancy advice services such as fpa or Brook. However, I’d be concerned that despite a caveat stating that organisations must make it clear if they do not provide abortion referrals, anti-abortion pregnancy advice services like LIFE, BVA (British Victims of Abortion – nice) and Care could still reach young women and spread their lies about so-called “Post Abortion Syndrome” and the non-existent link between breast cancer and abortion. There will be an 18 month review before any changes are put in place, followed by a consultation with the public, so I assume any concerns could be raised at that stage.

For those who haven’t heard of it, anti-abortion groups claim that “Post Abortion Syndrome” is a health condition caused by having an abortion, akin to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, there is a whole wealth of evidence which asserts that PAS does not exist, and it is not recognised by either US or UK psychology and psychiatry professionals. Where psychological problems are recorded post-abortion, these stem from the particular circumstances surrounding that woman’s abortion – negative reactions from family and friends, social stigma, religious convictions, poor pre and post abortion care etc – and being preyed on by groups determined to make women feel guilty about having an abortion and turn them into victims probably doesn’t help either. Which would be why I rip down any posters I see advertising these manipulative, anti-women “advice” services, and why I really don’t want them to get any airtime on the radio.

*UPDATE: The Times and The Mail are both reporting (in their own special, anti-abortion way) that pregnancy advice services could also advertise on TV. And in the most reassuring news I’ve heard so far today, a spokeswoman from Life claims that they ‘will never be able to afford to advertise on television’. Good stuff.

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