Pregnancy charity launches brazen adverts for the “standby” morning-after pill ahead of Christmas party seasonWomen will be encouraged to claim free pill by filling in online form

This is the lurid advert encouraging women to stock up on the morning-after pill over the party season.

It is part of a campaign launched by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service to try to reduce the numbers of unwanted pregnancies that traditionally increase at this time of year.

Women will be encouraged to claim their free ‘on-standby’ morning-after pill, which they can store away in their medicine cabinet, by filling in an online form.

Making light: The British Pregnancy Advisory Service

Making light: The British Pregnancy Advisory Service

The campaign will be promoted by posters emblazoned with the word ‘sex’ spelled out in Christmas lights, above which is written ‘Getting “turned on” this Christmas’

Critics have described the campaign as a ‘cynical marketing exercise’.

They have accused BPAS of trying to promote its services at a time when the demand for terminations is likely to rise.

The posters will encourage women to fill in a form online providing their name, address and telephone number and they will then be called back by a nurse who will carry out a 15-minute interview.

This will include questions to check women don’t have liver problems or other illnesses that may cause serious side-effects.

Nurses will also ask their age – although they will have no means to check. If a girl admits to being under 16 they will be encouraged to see their GP.

‘When the morning-after pill was approvedfor use, assurances were given that it would be used only in exceptional circumstances and would remain a prescription-only drug under the control of doctors.”

If the woman is deemed suitable, the morning-after pill will be put in the post. Normally they will be able to get only one at a time, but in exceptional circumstances they may be able to request more.

Nurses will also have to ensure that women don’t need the pill immediately because it is effective for only 72 hours after unprotected sex, so by the time it arrives it may be too late.

BPAS hopes women and teenage girls will turn to the scheme early as a precaution during a time of year when they may be more likely to lose their inhibitions.

 Emergency: The morning after pill, above, will be posted to women following a 15-minute telephone interview

Emergency: The morning after pill, above, will be posted to women following a 15-minute telephone interview

They would then have the pill on standby in case GP surgeries or chemists are closed over the bank holidays.

But Norman Wells of the Family Education charity said: ‘When the morning-after pill was approved for use, assurances were given that it would be used only in exceptional circumstances and would remain a prescription-only drug under the control of doctors.

‘Marketingit as a “just in case” drug and making it freely available is a dangerous experiment with unknown long-term consequences.

‘Giventhat one of the main goals of BPAS is to increase its market share for abortion services provision in the UK and that it regards an increase inthe number of abortions performed in the past year as a “significant achievement”, it is hard to see this scheme as anything other than a cynical marketing exercise.’

BPAS said that last January the number of Women seeking advice about unwanted pregnancies was 15 per cent up on other months.

Some 5,600 women contacted the charity during this month, although not all necessarily had abortions.

The morning-after pill costs about 25 from a chemist, although it is given free at GP surgeries, walk-in centres and hospitals.

BPAS does not get direct funding from the Department of Health but is paid by the NHS for some of its services, for example to carry out abortions in some hospitals and to provide contraceptive services.

BPAS chief Ann Furedi said: ‘We are as committed to helping women avoid the need for abortion as we are to providing first-class abortion care.

“We hope being able to access the morning-after pill over the phone for free will encourage more women to have one at home, just in case.’