The adverts (see below), which promoted the charity’s unplanned pregnancy advice service, were shown on TV in May and June. They showed a woman waiting at a bus stop with text on the screen that read "Jenny Evans is late", then a woman in a park with her two children, with the text "Katie Simmons is late", followed by a woman in a café, with the text "Shareen Butler is late".
A female voiceover said: "If you’re late for your period, you could be pregnant. If you’re pregnant and not sure what to do, Marie Stopes International can help."
The ASA received 1,054 complaints about the adverts and a further 3,296 postcards as part of a petition organised by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, but did not uphold any of the complaints.
The complaints included concerns that the advert was offensive because it promoted abortion and did not take into account the views of the father. Some complainants said the advert would encourage promiscuity.
In its response to the complaints, Marie Stopes International said the adverts did not promote abortion, but drew attention to the charity’s advice services.
In its adjudication, the ASA said the advert was "for a general pregnancy advice service for women who wished to learn about and discuss their options, which might include, but were not limited to, abortion".
It said the advert did not present the women in glamorous settings and was therefore unlikely to encourage promiscuity.
In a statement, Tracey McNeill, Marie Stopes International’s vice-president for the UK and western Europe, said: "We took every possible care to ensure that our advertisement complied with the ASA code of practice and was sensitively produced.
"We believe that our decision to advertise our services was justified and in the interest of women everywhere."