Last night, British commercial television broadcast an advertisement for hormonal birth control pills. Since I'm in Canada speaking at a pro-life conference, I didn't see it, but someone who did tells me that it was an animated cartoon with music, which portrayed a woman whose contraception had failed and who gets Levonelle One Step from a pharmacist. This powerful drug is sometimes called the morning-after pill and a caption on the screen during the ad pointed out that it was not 100% effective.
Colleagues who've been speaking to the media about this move have been at pains to point out that these pills are not just contraceptive in their effect. Publicity from the manufacturer persistently describes them as contraceptive, as does the product's website. Advertising and marketing are supposedly regulated, with manufacturers being told not to make misleading claims. Some ads are infuriating with all their disclaimers and "terms and conditions apply". Nevertheless, the makers of Levonelle can call their product a contraceptive even though their own literature describes how it may also prevent the implantation of the early embryo – thus causing an early abortion.
Regulators and lawmakers can be fierce in restricting what is said in advertising about alcohol and cigarettes because of the damage those things can do to people. By contrast, morning-after pills, which can lead to the death of innocent humans, are now being promoted like aspirin or indigestion cures. Abortion providers want to advertise on TV too and, rather than sending them away with a flea in their ear, the regulators are patiently holding a consultation on the proposal.