Controversial TV advertisements for the morning-after pill are being shown to viewers, even though they are meant to be banned here.

The ads, which portray a woman sitting up next to her partner in bed worried that she may be pregnant, were screened for the first time last Thursday night on British stations including UTV, Sky and Channel 4.

In another scene from the animated ads, a woman is seen with a crying child on a bus. A thought bubble appears next to the woman, who is concerned she may be pregnant, in which she says "I'm not ready for that". She then goes to a chemist where she obtains Levonelle One Step, which is available over the counter in Britain.

The same pill is known as Levonelle 1500 in Ireland but is only available on prescription here. Prescription-only products are not allowed to be advertised to the public.

A spokeswoman for UTV, which began to show the ad after the UK's 9pm watershed on Thursday, said it cannot change its advertising to take account of the laws in Ireland.

"This ad was sold on a UK-wide basis by the ITV network and included Northern Ireland," she said. "UTV is available via overspill in border areas and via cable but we cannot change any content or advertising for the Republic of Ireland."

The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) said it is consulting with "parties in the UK and Ireland to seek to have these broadcasts cease... The IMB is concerned that these advertisements could cause significant misunderstanding for Irish consumers," said a spokeswoman.

A spokeswoman for Bayer Healthcare, maker of Levonelle, said the campaign is directed "at UK channels only".