The first UK television commercial for abortion services is to be screened next week.

The ad for unplanned pregnancy and abortion advice at Marie Stopes clinics will ‘confront the taboo’ and raise awareness of sexual health, the organisation said.

The campaign will air for the first time at 10.10pm on Monday on Channel 4 until the end of June.

It follows a study that found fewer than half (42%) of UK adults knew where to go for specialist advice about an unplanned pregnancy other than their GP.

The survey also found that 76% of adults believed commercials for services offering advice on unplanned pregnancy should be allowed on television at appropriate times.

The ad asks ‘Are you late?’ in reference to a woman who has missed her period and directs those facing an unplanned pregnancy to Marie Stopes International's 24-hour helpline.

In 2008 a total of 195,300 abortions were performed on women living in England and Wales and 91% were funded by the NHS. Some 90% of abortions were carried out at under 13 weeks gestation, while 73% were under 10 weeks.

Around 80% of the 65,000 abortions provided by Marie Stopes in 2009 were carried out free on the NHS, with 20% being paid for privately.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in Britain said non-commercial providers of post-conception advice services had long been permitted to advertise on UK television.