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UK TV channels could allow abortion-related ads

  • Story Highlights
  • British TV channels could advertise abortion services under new proposals
  • Industry group says commercials would be for pregnancy advisory services
  • They give information about options for pregnant women, including abortion
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- British TV channels could advertise abortion services for the first time under new advertising rules proposed Thursday by an ad industry group.

The new proposals will also allow condoms to be advertised more widely on television.

The new proposals will also allow condoms to be advertised more widely on television.

The Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice, the industry body responsible for writing and enforcing advertising rules in Britain, said the commercials would be for pregnancy advisory services that give information about a range of options to pregnant women, including abortion.

If an organization does not offer information about abortion, it would have to make that clear in the ad, BCAP spokeswoman Lynsay Taffe said.

Abortion clinics, which require referrals from doctors or hospitals, would not be allowed to advertise under the proposed rules, Taffe said.

There would be no restrictions on when such ads could air on British television, she said, but programmers would have to keep the sensitive topic in mind and not schedule the ads around religious programs, for example.

"It's a sensitive product, so it would have to be scheduled sensitively," Taffe told CNN.

The proposal is among a number of updates to current advertising standards that the Committee for Advertising Practice and BCAP, its broadcasting arm, published Thursday after an 18-month review.

"Each year the British public (sees) millions of advertisements, many of which are memorable," the committee said. "The advertising codes aim to make sure that they are memorable for the right reasons."

The public now has until June 19 to comment on the proposals before they come into force, likely in 2010, the committee said.

The new proposals also contain a change on advertising condoms on television. Under current rules, condoms generally cannot be advertised on TV before 9 p.m. in order to protect younger viewers, the committee said.

New rules would relax the restrictions on advertising condoms, with the only requirement that they not be shown around programs intended for children younger than 10.

The change came after Joyce Gould, a member of the House of Lords, requested the change and noted that Britain had the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe along with spiraling rates of sexually transmitted diseases, the committee said.

Gould reported a survey that showed young people believed TV was one of the most effective ways of encouraging them to use condoms.

"The presence of condom advertisements on television continues to be a subject of complaint to the (Advertising Standards Authority), but numbers are very low," the committee said. "Nevertheless, BCAP has to balance public sensitivities against a public health problem that is clearly urgent."

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