First morning-after pill TV ad to air tonight

LONDON - The UK's first television ad for the morning-after pill is to be screened tonight sparking outrage from some pro-life groups.

The ad for Bayer Schering Pharma's Levonelle One Step morning-after pill will be broadcast after the 9pm watershed across a range of channels including ITV, Channel 4 and Sky.

The move comes just weeks after the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice released proposals to allow pregnancy advisory services to advertise on the TV and radio for the first time and for condoms to be advertised on all channels at any time.

The ad for Levonelle One Step shows a woman waking up next to her partner and then taking a trip to the pharmacy to ask for the pill, which is available without a prescription.

It aims to highlight that the pill is effective for up to 72 hours after contraception has failed, although it is more effective the sooner it is taken.

A spokeswoman for Bayer said: "We believe TV advertising plays an important role in informing women about Levonelle One Step and how it can be obtained."

A spokeswoman for 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.

"Young girls will be particularly susceptible to this advertising campaign, and it is foolish to imagine they do not watch TV after the 9.00 watershed."

Levonelle has previously been promoted through posters and magazine ads. A 2004 London Underground poster campaign, featuring the strapline "Immaculate Contraception" was withdrawn following complaints from Catholic groups.