Desperate to meet a target for reducing teenage pregnancies by 2010, the British government has instructed 21 local authorities to promote long-acting contraceptive injections or implants for girls in their areas. The government also wants more school-based clinics to administer the jabs, which can makes girls infertile for up to three months. Teenagers can receive the injections or implants without their parents’ knowledge. The contraceptive push targets areas with high and increasing rates of teenage pregnancy and repeat abortions.

Official figures show there are 1200 girls under 15 taking long-acting contraception, as well as 2900 15-year-olds and 11,500 girls aged 16 or 17. These jabs and implants have been given to girls as young as 13. The government wants to see a big increase in the uptake because it has identified failures by teenage girls to take the daily pill correctly as one reason for under-age pregnancies. The UK has the second-highest rate for under-18s (41.3 per thousand) after the US.

Some health experts oppose the move, saying that contraceptive use over a long period may impact adversely on bone growth, and that girls will get a false sense of security since they will not necessarily be protected against STIs, which are also on the increase. “And will it work?” asks Dr Hans Christian Raabe. “I have not seen a single convincing study to show that provision of contraception leads to a reduction in teenage pregnancy. What is needed is behavioural change.” ~ Telegraph (UK), Nov 16

 

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet