Monday, December 3, 2007

Health Chiefs Supply The Morning-After Pill To Girls Under 16

Health Chiefs Supply The Morning-After Pill To Girls Under 16

Campaigners have accused health chiefs in Suffolk and Essex of promoting a casual attitude to sex by supplying the morning-after pill to girls under the age of 16. In a new report, published today, the Family Education Trust says 128 primary care trusts across the country are authorising the supply of the emergency pill to girls under 16.

Of this number, 70% are also prepared to insist on provision of the drug to underage girls as a condition of granting a pharmacy licence, it says.

The trust, which researches the causes and consequences of family breakdown, describes the policy as "misguided" and claims it is born out of the "blind ideology" that it will contribute to lower teenage pregnancy rates.

But PCTs in Suffolk and Essex have hit back at the claims, saying although they work hard to make youngsters aware of the consequences of unprotected sex, some girls will ignore advice and go ahead with it anyway.

The trust obtained data under the Freedom of Information Act to discover how many PCTs operated the policy.

Its research found Suffolk PCT, Mid-Essex PCT and Great Yarmouth and Waveney PCT were among those issuing girls under 16 with the morning-after pill, the latter only in the Waveney area.

Norman Wells, director of the trust, said: "The confidential provision of the morning-after pill to teenage girls is a key strand in the Government's teenage pregnancy strategy and extravagant claims have been made about its ability to reduce unwanted pregnancy and abortion rates.

"However, the fact that not a single PCT was able to point to any research evidence linking easy access to the emergency pill with a reduction in teenage pregnancy rates suggests that their policies are being pursued out of sheer desperation or blind ideology.

"Over recent years we have witnessed the systematic removal of every constraint which in previous years generations served as a disincentive to underage sexual activity.

"Against such a background, there can be no doubt that the free and confidential provision of the emergency pill to girls under the age of 16 is further promoting a casual approach to sexual relationships.

"This will inevitably result in more underage sex, more teenage pregnancies and more sexually transmitted infections."

But Norman Foster, integrated sexual health services manager for Suffolk PCT, said everyone in Suffolk had the right to access medical advice and support.

"It is really important that a girl can receive confidential advice and support to cope if she finds herself in what is, sometimes, a very worrying situation," he said.

"There is no escaping the fact that we have increasing rates of teenage conceptions in the county.

"Our work with young people concentrates on making them aware of the consequences of having sex and in particular unprotected sex, but we have to be realistic and some young people will go ahead so we must have support in place to deal with the problems that occur, such as unwanted pregnancy.

"In our clinics, we offer confidential, non-judgemental advice on all health matters.

"Youngsters can talk about their sexual health, how to avoid feeling pressured into having sex and how to deal with the consequences appropriately.

"Our nurses give out the morning after pill only after talking to the youngsters concerned."

A spokesman for Mid Essex Primary Care Trust added: "Clinicians and pharmacists may supply Emergency Hormonal Contraception to persons aged under 16 under exceptional circumstances which would depend on a one-to-one discussion with the individual concerned and following a judgement of Fraser competency. It would also take into account issues of child protection."

The term Fraser competency arises from the case in the early 1980s when Victoria Gillick attempted to set a legal precedent which would have meant medical practitioners could not give people under 16 treatment or contraceptive services without parental permission.

The ruling was initially successful but the House of Lords ruled people under 16 were competent to give valid consent - if they had sufficient understanding and intelligence to enable them to understand what was proposed. Lord Fraser was the leading Law Lord for the review.


Endoscopy said...

If one of these children go to a doctor about a health problem how can the doctor work without possibility of damage to the child if they don't know all the medications the child is taking?

If the parents of the child are unaware of medication the child is taking how can they properly look for side effects of the medication?

This attitude sucks along with the secret abortions for the same reasons.

Hullios said...

hmmm, interesting article ....