Children’s commissioner wrong on sex clinics for kids
13 May 2008
Children’s commissioner wrong on sex clinics for kids Belfast, 13 May 2008 - Pro-life campaigners 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 (SPUC), comes in response to claims made by Patricia Lewsley, the Northern Ireland Children's Commissioner, that easier access to sexual health clinics for children would reduce the level of teenage pregnancies in the Province.
Betty Gibson, chairwoman of the SPUC in Northern Ireland said: "While Patricia Lewsley recognises that current teenage pregnancy strategy has failed she is actually asking for same disastrous policies to continue. It's time the health department faced up to the fact that its policies have 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 seriously threatens their health and makes them more vulnerable to exploitation. It hasn't reduced levels of teenage pregnancy and disease because it encourages children to become sexual active. "Regardless of the evidence of its failure, the Children's Commissioner is asking the health department to step-up funding for clinics like Brook so they can open in new areas. This can only make matters worse," she said. Mrs Gibson also 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. Noting that the figures for sexually transmitted diseases in Northern Ireland more than doubled between 1995 and 2005, Mrs Gibson said: "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."