Making 13-year-olds pregnancy-proof

Carolyn Moynihan
14 February 2012
Reproduced with Permission

It was always obvious to any sane adult that giving contraceptives to teenagers would do next to nothing to stop them getting pregnant. In fact, contraceptive education and supply to schoolgirls has been accompanied for decades by rising numbers of pregnancies in the UK, making Britain, notoriously, the teenage pregnancy capital of Europe.

Ah, said the zealots, it was just the wrong method. They needed methods that would last months, or years, because teenage girls, you know, they just can't be expected to take a pill every day.

So five years ago -- perhaps longer -- the government gave the green light to fit girls with hormone releasing implants that are inserted under the skin of the upper arm, The Telegraph reports. So-called sexual health clinics have performed this minor surgery on thousands of girls -- without, of course, consulting their parents. They have been administering the contraceptive jab, as well.

According to the NHS Information Centre, about 7,400 girls aged 15 or under had implants or injections last year, up from 2,900 in 2005/6. This included 2,500 who had injections last year, up from 2,100.

The aim is to get the number of pregnancies down. It doesn't matter that the girls are below the age of consent and are being "protected" from the consequences -- correction, only one consequence and not necessarily the worst -- of statutory rape.

According to the figures last year 1,700 girls aged 13 and 14 were fitted with implants, while 800 had injections that provided a similar effect.

The previous year, statistics also show that 3,200 15-year-old girls were fitted with implants, and 1,700 had injections.

Some parents have begun complaining; some no doubt are in circumstances too demoralising to care. One girl has spoken up (she was 13 when she received the implants) saying she had sex because she "felt like" it. And why wouldn't she when that is what she sees on TV and what the contraceptive approach encourages. Her mother said she was "proud" of the girl for seeking protection from the clinic; but she objected to not being consulted, the family doctor not being consulted and a lack of medical follow-up.

But none of that matters to the authorities because they have the result they want:

NHS managers have defended sexual health services going into schools, saying teenage pregnancies had dropped by 22 per cent as a result.

Each child was assessed for their capacity to consent to the procedure and a detailed medical history was taken from them by properly trained personnel, a spokesman for NHS Solent, said.

Informed consent? Do the doctors even know what the effect of long-acting hormonal contraceptives starting when girls are 13?

Under guidance for medical professionals parents are not informed of medical treatment of under 16-year-olds due to patient confidentiality and children must be assessed for their ability to consent to treatment.

I hope responsible parents get really furious about this and make themselves felt.