The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, known as bpas, is running a Christmas-themed emergency contraception campaign. Its campaign, using the URL santacomes.org, has the words “sex” written in Christmas lights and asks if you are “Getting ‘turned on’ by Christmas?” According to bpas, there are more women with unplanned pregnancies in January than any other time of the year. They want women to order the morning after pill in advance of the holidays “just in case”, since it can be difficult to get hold of over Christmas.
Below the glowing words “sex” in the campaign posters, the ads read:
He’s hot, he lights you up inside, you can’t switch it off and before you know it, the sparks are flying…
The thing is, we see more women with an unplanned pregnancy in January than any other time of year. We don’t want you to be one of them. Getting hold of a morning after pill over Christmas can be difficult so it’s useful to have it before you need it. bpas is giving away FREE morning after pills in advance throughout December.
The ads have apparently been more successful than intended. The website currently reads: “Due to the popularity of this service we are unable to provide the morning after pill in advance of need before Christmas.” It goes on to provide information on other places that people can get contraception in an emergency.
In addition to being popular, the campaign has also created controversy. Josephine Quintavalle of the ProLife Alliance told the Telegraph that “This scheme isn’t about making women responsible; it will lead to them exposing themselves to more risks.” Because you need to be 16 or older to get the morning after pill without a prescription in the the United Kingdom, there is concern that younger girls will lie about their age to get the pill this way. Critics of the campaign also say that it could “fuel promiscuity and encourage unprotected sex.”
Bpas, on the other hand, says the campaign is essential at a time of year when emergency contraceptives are difficult and expensive to get hold of. Tracey Foresyth, the lead contraception nurse at bpas, told the Telegraph that ordering the morning after pill in advance is the smart thing to do:
Sometimes women worry that requesting the pill in advance makes it look like you are planning on taking chances. In fact the opposite is true – making sure you have a back-up to help prevent an unwanted pregnancy is making sure nothing is left to chance.
According to the Telegraph, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley “would prefer the pills be issued after a face-to-face consultation but stopped short of saying he would intervene.”
Last year’s bpas holiday campaign was similarly provocative. Promoting contraception in general and condoms in particular, the ad read: “I’ll have a slow comfortable screw, sex on the beach, a slippery nipple, and a screaming orgasm, please” using a double entendre to refer to both the potential hangover and potential unwanted pregnancy that could result from a night of too many drinks and too much fun.