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Health policy on teenage pregnancy part of the problem

15 June 2007

Health policy on teenage pregnancy part of the problem BELFAST 15 June 2007: Leading pro-life campaigners in Northern Ireland are calling on the health committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly to investigate the failure of the Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety's sexual health strategy. The call from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children comes as a report published by the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV (IAG) shows that the UK has the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and sexual infections in Europe. While the IAG blames the disastrous state of the sexual health of young people in the UK on advertising and 'celebrity culture,' Betty Gibson, chairwoman of the SPUC in Northern Ireland said: "It is the policies of successive British governments which have resulted in this situation. These policies have also been implemented in Northern Ireland. Now that we have our own government in Stormont it's time that the health department faced up to the fact that its teenage sexual health strategy has actually made things worse. "This strategy funds services like the Brook Advisory Centre which supplies 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. Giving birth control and abortifacients to children has failed to tackle levels of teenage pregnancy and disease because it only encourages children to become sexual active," Mrs Gibson said. "Despite the evidence of its failure, the health department now intends to step-up funding for Brook so it can open a new clinic in Coleraine. This will only make matters worse." Mrs Gibson pointed out that in spite of the huge increase in the provision of the morning-after pill in recent years, there was no comparable drop in teenage pregnancies. The morning-after pill, which can cause the abortion of an early embryo, is also associated with an increased the risk of ectopic pregnancy, a life threatening condition. "Figures for sexually transmitted diseases in Northern Ireland more than doubled between 1995 and 2005. The health department's policies are part of the problem, not the solution. We're calling on the health committee to look at the evidence and adopt a new approach which isn't going to make the situation worse."

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