By politics.co.uk staff
Abortion advice could be advertised on television and radio for the first time, under new proposals.
From today the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) will begin a three-month consultation into whether abortion clinics should be allowed to see their adverts broadcast during prime-time evening slots.
Under the proposals, which aim to reduce the teenage pregnancy rate and levels of sexual infections in the UK, restrictions on condom adverts could also be relaxed allowing them to be shown before the watershed.
The Broadcast Committee on Advertising Practice (BCAP), which is part of the consultation, claims the Advisory Group on Sexual Health has called for a relaxation of the rules, highlighting figures which show over 11,000 under-16s were diagnosed with either chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhoea, syphilis or genital warts between 2002 and 2006.
The proposals would also see pregnancy advice services, including information on abortions, to be shown on UK TV for the first time.
The proposals from BCAP state: "Because it considers that women who are or might be pregnant and are considering abortion merit specific protection under the BCAP Code, BCAP proposes to include a rule on advertisements for post-conception pregnancy advice services.
"BCAP considers that rule should fulfil two policy objectives - to allow post-conception pregnancy advice services the freedom to advertise and to ensure that advertisements for those services make clear whether the service refers women for abortion."
The consultation is expected to close on June 19th, with the new rulings potentially coming into effect in 2010.