Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Morning after Pill 'Will Lead to More Teenage Pregnancies'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Morning after Pill 'Will Lead to More Teenage Pregnancies'

Article excerpt

Byline: MAXINE FRITH

FRESH concerns over the Government's controversial strategy to reduce teenage pregnancies were raised by a leading academic today. Dr David Paton said plans to widen access to the morning-after pill could actually lead to a rise in the number of teenage mothers.

He also warned that key planks of the strategy were putting young girls at increased risk of catching sexually transmitted diseases.

Dr Paton, head of economics at the Nottingham University Business School, conducted a study into the effects of widening access to the drug Levonelle 2 - better known as the morning-after pill.

The Government sparked controversy last year when it launched a policy of allowing Levonelle to be bought over the counter in chemists rather than with a prescription.

It has also announced proposals to allow school nurses to give out the pill.

Campaigners have been outraged, claiming it will mean girls as young as 12 could be given contraception without their parents' knowledge.

The Government's strategy is based on widening access to sex education and contraception, in a bid to halt soaring rates of teenage pregnancies.

Britain has the second-highest rate of teenage conceptions in the western world, with more than 7,000 girls under the age of 16 conceiving each year.

While pregnancy rates for older teenagers have fallen in the wake of the Government's new strategy, those for underage girls have continued to rise.

Dr Paton said that his analysis of underage girls attending planning clinics showed that access to contraception had no impact on reducing pregnancies.

The number of under-16s attending family planning clinics rose from 20 per 1,000 in 1990 to 80 per 1,000 in 2000.

While the rate of those receiving the morning-after pill rose from five per 1,000 in 1990 to 25 per 1,000 in 2000, the teenage pregnancy rate stayed level at just 10 per 1,000. …

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