Page 3, 27th February 1998

27th February 1998
Page 3
Page 3, 27th February 1998 — Row rages over under-age contraception figures

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Organisations: Department of Health


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Row rages over under-age contraception figures

One in ten teenage girls uses Pill

THE ALARMING statistic reported this week that one in ten of all girls aged 14 and 15 has obtained the contraceptive Pill from family planning clinics was greeted by campaigners for the family as evidence of a serious failure of government policy, writes Andrew M Brown.

Campaigners said the figures demonstrated that sex education and contraception advice promoted by the state had had the effect of encouraging promiscuity, but had at the same time failed to reduce the rate of unwanted pregnancy or abortion.

Nuala Scarisbrick, a Trustee of Life, a charity specialising in caring for mothers and babies, said the Department of Health statistics, reported in the Daily Mail newspaper on Monday, showed "a tragic failure of governments to care for vulnerable teenagers".

Mrs Scarisbrick said the contraceptive pill as supplied to the girls had damaged the health of young women. "Many will have been given the very same contraceptive pills that have killed some young women and damaged the health of many others.

"One hundred and seventy legal cases will be heard next month where victims and relations of victims will sue the manufacturers of certain

brands of pill. There are several issues here: what kind of society actively promotes underage sex by Government funding of advice centres where young girls can go without their parents' knowledge and consent and be prescribed hormonal drugs?"

Mrs Scarisbrick branded the clinics "uncaring" and said that some birth control pills work by causing early abortion. She said a priority for the Government should be to throw out "the failed policy of the last 24 years" and called for enforcement of the law on under-age sex and for all organisations dispensing sex advice to under-age girls to be closed.

Dr John Campion, head of the Family Law Action Group, said clinics should "stop handing out contraception which helps underage girls to break the law".

Valerie Riches, Director of the independent think-tank Family and Youth Concern, said the age of consent had virtually been abandoned, but prosecutions of men for having sex with under-age girls had fallen.

"These girls are the victims of an unlawful act, but it's being ignored," Ms Riches said. "The Government is going to have to decide whether there is an age of consent or not."

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