Keeping Mum

Dita De Boni looks at the trials and tribulations of being a parent.

Keeping Mum: Are you late?

4 comments
Fewer than half the adults in the UK know where to turn for specialist advice about unplanned pregnancy. Photo / Supplied
Fewer than half the adults in the UK know where to turn for specialist advice about unplanned pregnancy. Photo / Supplied

Last year, 76 per cent of British adults surveyed said they thought it was appropriate to run advertisements offering help for those dealing with unplanned pregnancies.

Which means the remaining 24 per cent are very vocal. They've kicked up merry hell as the country's first television abortion ad gets ready to run for the first time next week.

The path to advertising abortion services on UK TV started back in 2009 when Britain was faced with some pretty startling statistics from the OECD. Those statistics placed the UK fourth behind Mexico, Turkey and the US in terms of its number of teen pregnancies. It was first in Europe.

One result of the ensuing moral outcry was that a vocal lobby from Durex, the world's largest condom maker, was finally heard: change the rules so that we can advertise our products before 9pm.

Over 4,000 public submissions were received on a raft of suggestions to overhaul both broadcast and non-broadcast advertising rules. Alongside allowing earlier condom ads and abortion service ads, for example, there would be a tightening of things like claiming exaggerated environmental benefits and advertising violent and sexually charged video games during kids programming.

Naturally, the abortion ads idea garnered the most interest, and clamorous debates between women's health advocates and anti-abortionists flared.

But it appears the pro-abortion lobby won, with the ads from Marie Stopes International airing for the first time next Monday (UK time), with the tagline "Are You Late?" Marie Stopes is a worldwide Non-Governmental sexual and reproductive health service.

The OECD report of 2009 that highlighted the high frequency of teen pregnancies in the UK - that created this new precedent in TV advertising - told an interesting story. It showed that teen birth rates had risen for the first time in five years in the UK, that educational outcomes were, on average, low for the amount spent on teenagers, and that in addition, UK teens were about the most drunk of any across the entire OECD.

Crucially, the report also criticised the UK for spending a vast amount on "single-parent" benefits.

As the British Government changes, many there are looking to the new Tory leaders to crack down on what is being seen - with the help of a rather sensationalistic media - as an epidemic of teen girls receiving council housing, benefits and other "perks" from opting for single parenthood.

What of New Zealand? We too have high rates of teen pregnancy (in terms of developed nations, 3rd after US and UK in the OECD). Our educational outcomes are pretty good, but we spend almost the lowest of all countries on our kids. We have a problem with youth and alcohol (or more truthfully, people of all ages and alcohol) and more to the point, we pay the DPB to 97,000 sole parents (Feb 2010, Ministry of Social Development website).

Will our Tory-lite government put any thought into these issues, or - more unlikely - any thought into tackling teen pregnancy at all?

I wouldn't put money on it. But one way to get us talking about it at least would be to consider what it would be like if Family Planning was more aggressive in marketing all the services they provide to the population, including referrals for abortion for women who meet the criteria.

After all, it turns out fewer than half of UK adults knew where to go for specialist advice about unplanned pregnancy other than their GP. If this is even partially true for New Zealand as well, there is a definite need for more information in this - as in all areas of our sexual/reproductive life.

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a5 at 24 Sep 2014 12:31:51 Processing Time: 749ms