By Hilary White

EDINBURGH, August 17, 2009 ( – A Freedom of Information request has revealed that Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) has sponsored dozens of abortions for underage girls in Scotland in recent years. The Daily Record newspaper reports that 87 13-year-old girls and eight 12 year-olds as well as almost 3,000 girls under 15 had NHS abortions between 2000 and 2008. The government has responded to the statistics with promises of still more sex education in Scotland for young people, despite statistics demonstrating the failure of the strategy.

Public Health Minister Shona Robison told media that the numbers were “cause for concern” and said that the government is working with health boards and local councils to ensure “appropriate” education on sex and relationships will be delivered in all schools.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland called the numbers “appalling and distressing.” Peter Kearney, told the BBC, “If anything it indicates that the government’s sexual health strategy, which was created by the last administration and perpetuated by the current administration, is working perfectly.

“Because part of that strategy was fast and instant access to widespread abortion services. Unfortunately, it is completely the wrong strategy.”

“Until politicians and health professionals stop counting abortion as a solution and realize what an appalling problem it is, these numbers will probably get worse.”

Kearny said that the statistics on abortions on girls under the legal age of consent indicated that a “serious question” should be asked of GPs in Scotland.

In 1997, at the time the Labour Party came to power under Tony Blair, a major campaign platform had been promises to cut Britain’s soaring rates of teenage pregnancy, largely through the expansion of sex education programs for young people in schools. While contraception and abortion campaigners continue to tout the sex-ed strategy, a government pilot program was recently cancelled when it was discovered that girls targeted for intensive sex-ed were more than twice as likely to become pregnant than their peers not in the program.

The government’s so-called ‘abstinence-plus’ strategy is to encourage under-age children to say no to sex until they are 16, while at the same time being given explicit information on sex and contraceptives. But critics have said that the British sex-ed programs expurgate mention of objective morality and say that young people are not to be given any clear moral direction. They are instead encouraged to “clarify their own values” and decide what is right “for them.”

Norman Wells, head of Family Education Trust, wrote in his 2009 book “Too Much Too Soon,” that the program of study for 11-14 year-olds makes several references to the need to teach 11-14-year-olds about sexual orientation, same-sex relationships and civil partnerships and recommends two of Britain’s leading abortion and contraception advocates, the Family Planning Association and Brook as sources of help.

In 2006, a 14-year-old girl, Josie Parkinson, described the sex education provided in her local secondary school. “As a 14 year-old girl,” Parkinson told the Daily Mail, “I have had to attend four talks in the past nine months from a woman from a family planning clinic.

“I have been taught three times how to put on a condom; how easily pupils can acquire condoms free at a clinic; how to recognise sexually transmitted diseases and have them treated confidentially at a clinic; and that we do not need to tell our parents, GP, the police or anyone else in authority about being provided with contraception, or even having an abortion.”

Parkinson added, “There was not one mention of abstaining or any discouragement of sex. At the first lesson we were told: ‘As you know, it is unlawful for a girl or boy to have sex before 16. However, if you are under 16, we can still provide you with contraception and you do not need to tell your parents about it.'”

Doreen Massey, former director of the Family Planning Association and current chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children, said that sex education should teach children “to express love without embarrassment, and to find and give pleasure in sexual encounters when it is appropriate.”

The age of consent in Scotland, England and Wales is 16.

Read related coverage:

£6 Million Government Reduction Program Resulted in More than Twice as Many Teen Pregnancies