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Northern Ireland health minister urged to withdraw sex health plan

22 March 2004

Northern Ireland health minister urged to withdraw sex health plan Belfast, 22 March 2004--Leading pro-life campaigners in Northern Ireland are calling on the Minister of Health to withdraw her department's Five Year Sexual Health Strategy. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) is warning that the plan will result in an increase in teenage pregnancies, abortions and sexually transmitted diseases. Mrs Betty Gibson, chairwoman of SPUC in Northern Ireland said: "In our response to this strategy, we point out that it is a continuation of the policy which currently funds services like the Brook Advisory Centre to supply children as young as 12 with powerful and potentially damaging chemical steroids, not as a treatment for a medical condition but to facilitate recreational sexual activity. The policy has failed completely to tackle levels of teenage pregnancy and disease because it only encourages children to become sexually active. "Despite the evidence of its failure over the past 30 years, the health department now intends to step up spending on the supply of contraceptives and abortifacients to under-aged children. The strategy identifies 'difficulties in accessing emergency contraceptive services, in particular for young people.' "So-called emergency contraception or the morning-after pill can cause the abortion of an early embryo and increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy, a life threatening condition. In spite of the huge increase of the provision of the morning-after pill during the 1990s there was no comparable drop in teenage pregnancies. "Health department policy on teenage pregnancy is part of the problem, not the solution. We're calling on the health minister to withdraw this strategy and adopt a new approach which isn't going to make the situation worse." A copy of SPUC's detailed response to the Sexual Health Strategy is available from its Belfast office.

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