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EDINBURGH, September 2, 2004 ( – Scotland’s prelate, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has lashed out at lawmakers for their public school sex education program, calling it “state-sponsored sexual abuse.” He described the new sexual health strategy as “one of the biggest challenges to the morality of our nation in a generation.”

Included in a critique published in the Sunday Times, Cardinal O’Brien said the new guidelines would mean sex education would now be taught to children three and four years old, while contraceptives and abortion would be available to teenage girls without the knowledge or consent of their parents.  Cardinal O’Brien predicts that the unveiling of the government’s sex-ed proposal in October will ignite a backlash from parents unlike any before. “I fear the passions ignited by the section 28 debate [backlash by parents against the overt promotion of homosexuality in public education] could be a mere flicker compared with the protests of parents determined to preserve their children’s innocence and protect their childhood,” the Cardinal wrote, as reported by The Guardian. “Parents are rightly appalled at the idea of prepubescent, far less pre-school children, being provided with graphic and intimate sexual instruction.”  A government executive group has been working on a national sexual health strategy since 2002 to address skyrocketing teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease rates – one of the highest in Europe.  Scotland’s First Minister, Jack McConnell, has already promised the measures in question would not be implemented: “He mentions the morning-after pill being given to teenagers. But we have made it absolutely clear that must not happen in schools to those who are under the age of 16 and that is a policy that is being properly administered across Scotland. He also suggests we are going to have sex education for under-fives which I can absolutely guarantee is not going to happen.”  The Moslem Association of Britain Saturday expressed their support for the Cardinals’s position.  In May, as many as four hundred girls, some as young as 14, were sterilized by doctors in Scotland at public expense, without their parents’ knowledge. The program was part of an effort by public health officials to stem the growing number of teenage pregnancies.

Read related coverage:  Scotland To Send Birthday Cards With Sex And Contraception Advice To 14-Year-Olds Scottish Doctors Sterilize up to 400 Girls Without Parental Notification   tv