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One-in-20 girls aged 10-15 used morning after pill in one UK town last year

Officials responded by calling for more sex education in schools.
Tue Nov 25, 2014 - 12:46 pm EST
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The Liverpool borough of St Helens has been given the questionable distinction of being the "underage emergency contraception" capital of England, according to a local media report.

According to figures obtained by Trinity-Mirror's data unit, last year nearly 200 girls aged 10 to 15 asked for the morning-after pill in Merseyside county, but in St Helens one in every 20 girls aged 10-15 received the drugs, the Liverpool Echo reported.

The stats show that for every 1,000 ten to fifteen-year-old girls living in St Helens, there were 54 prescriptions for emergency contraception handed out between April 2013 and March 2014.

However, a spokeswoman for the town council said that the stats were incomplete and the actual figures could be even higher, because they only showed access by the children to sexual health clinics and excluded doctors' prescriptions and pills handed out directly by pharmacists.

Liz Gaulton, the council's director of public health and well-being, said, “St Helens data cannot be directly compared with other areas because our teenage pregnancy service operates in a more flexible way with multi access points.”

“It’s extremely successful," Gaulton contended, without mentioning the under-age element of the stats, "but means our figures show a higher number of ‘contacts,’ as opposed to other areas where GPs and pharmacies might be the preferred route to contraception.”

Sex-education-saturated UK has the highest teen pregnancy rate in Europe, but the reaction to the revealing data was more sex education.

St Helens South and Whiston MP Shaun Woodward said that the “worrying” data was evidence that more "sexual health advice and services" are needed for children.

"These figures are a stark reminder of the need for continuing to ensure we have strong health and public services for young people in St Helens,” he said.

“We need to show young people how to avoid getting into the situation where they need emergency contraception in the first place, especially as emergency contraception doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections," said St Helens North MP Dave Watts.

“There are religious and cultural reasons that we have this problem in St Helens and we need to make sure that our young people are protected,” Watts said.

The UK government has been pushing contraceptives on children for decades in an effort to cut down the skyrocketing teen pregnancy rates, although numerous studies have shown that these rates are not reduced by easier availability of condoms, pills, or sex education.

A 2002 study by University of Nottingham professor Dr. David Paton, a leading expert on teenage fertility, suggested that candid sex education and the availability of the morning after pill actually increase promiscuous sex. 

The study confirmed the results of studies conducted in 1999 and 2000 which found that use of family planning information did not lead to a decrease in unwanted pregnancies, and found that young people who were given the morning-after pill were much more likely to have abortions.

Moreover, a survey conducted in 2005 revealed that teenage pregnancy rates are highest in areas that have been most aggressive in promoting sex education. The survey report stated that explicit sex education and providing condoms to young girls simply encourages them to become sexually active.

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  sex education, united kingdom