By Hilary White

OXFORD, April 28, 2009 ( – A UK Catholic bishop has condemned a plan by Oxfordshire health officials to allow girls as young as eleven to order the abortifacient morning after pill by text message from their school nurse. An auxiliary bishop of the Catholic archdiocese of Birmingham told local news media that the proposed plan by local health authorities and the Oxfordshire County Council “goes against the very central idea the Catholic church has on human life.”

Bishop Leonard William Kenney told the Daily Telegraph, “It is sending out the message that it was better to deal with the aftermath of what people do, rather than the causes.

“I don’t think this will help solve the teenage pregnancy rate and is taking away responsibility from parents.”

Set to begin in July, the pilot program will apply to six secondary schools in Oxfordshire county, including St. Gregory the Great Catholic school in Oxford. Authorities have informed the schools that there will be no opt-out allowed, claiming that the texting service is “outside the governance of the schools” because it is offered outside of school hours.

Chaplain for St. Gregory’s, Father Daniel Seward, said, “The school is part of the Catholic church and the Church has a very clear view that sexual relations take place properly within marriage and that any abortion or contraception is contrary to the dignity of the human person.

“Sex is never just a recreational activity,” he added.

Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust conducted a poll and identified the ancient university city of Oxford and nearby Banbury as “hotspots” for Britain’s endemic teen pregnancy problem.

In a joint statement issued in March, the Oxfordshire County Council and Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust said, “This service would provide an extra level of support for those young people who think they have taken a risk, or have another health problem, and don’t want to approach a doctor or a pharmacist but can text a nurse and ask what they can do.”

Authorities emphasized that they would bring in child protection staff if a request came from any girl aged 11 to 13. The age of consent for sexual activity in England and Wales is 16, as specified by the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

John Smeaton, director of the UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children told, that the plan “just shows the contempt of the sex education industry for the unborn and for parents. Parents have got to resist this kind of development.”

Smeaton urged concerned parents to contact the Safe at School Campaign, a program run by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children that aims to educate parents and teachers about the dangers of “sex and relationships education.”   

To express concerns to Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust:
Jubilee House
5510 John Smith Drive
Oxford Business Park South
Oxford OX4 2LH
(0) 1865 336 800
Fax: (0)1865 337 094

To contact SPUC’s Safe at School campaign:
3 Whitacre Mews, Stannary Street
London, SE11 4AB, UK
Telephone: (0) 20 7091 7091
Fax: (0) 20 7820 3131
Email: [email protected]