Morning after pill Christmas advertising campaign

A new advertising campaign aimed at cutting the number of unwanted pregnancies over the Christmas period was launched this week. The advert offers the morning after pill to women over the telephone and free of charge and it is hoped that women at risk of pregnancy will stock up for the festive period and use it in case of emergency.

The campaign has been developed by The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS)

and features a poster with the word ‘sex’ spelled out in fairy lights. The tagline for the advertising campaign is “Getting ‘turned on’ this Christmas?”. The advertising campaign is not without irony and its website address is titled rather humorously, santacomes.org.

Some critics have accused the campaign of being over the top and said it may send out the wrong message. ProLife Alliance campaigner Josephine Quintavalle, called it “incredibly vulgar”. She said: “We believe that this campaign may trivialise the issues at stake here and lead to women being less responsible than they should be. It may also lead to them exposing themselves to risks they wouldn’t normally do.”

The product at the centre of the campaign is the contraceptive, Levonelle One Step, and users will be required to register personal details on the website to attain it. Following this they will be entitled to a fifteen-minute consultation from a trained nurse which is aimed at weeding out young teenagers and others who are not suitable for the pill.

The charity has commented that it does expect that young teenagers will attempt to get hold of the pill by lying about their age, despite the consultation process which is there to prevent them doing so and that some will inevitably slip through the net. Children under 16 would normally require a prescription to get hold of the pill.

Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, said that it would be preferable if the pills could be handed over following a face-to-face consultation, but said that there were no plans for the government to intervene.

BPAS described the service as essential considering that surgeries and pharmacies will be closed in most places over the festive period and with pharmacies charging for pills there were significant risks for young girls getting pregnant unintentionally. Chemists charge around £20 for emergency contraceptives and it’s believed the price puts many young girls in vulnerable positions off using them in an emergency.

Tracey Forsyth, BPAS nurse and spokesperson, said: “There is a time frame of 72 hours following unprotected sex in which the morning after pill can be taken to protect against pregnancy. But the sooner the female takes the pill, the greater the chance of its success. It is not foolproof however, and it can fail.”

“Some people who do not have all the facts believe that obtaining the pill in advance will encourage women to act irresponsibly. This is incorrect. The women choosing the pill are taking a responsible line and getting it ready just in case.”

Some critics have slated the scheme saying that it was like calling for a pizza and argued that teenagers would take advantage by ordering pills without their parents consent.

Some argued that it could promote promiscuity and unprotected sex and may even lead to an increase in sexually transmitted disease.

BPAS said its nurses would be trained to discuss contraception then send the pills in the post with condoms and advice leaflets to approved women only.