13-year-old Girls should be given the pill claim chemists
CHEMISTS ‘SHOULD GIVE PILL TO 13-YEAR-OLD GIRLS’
Critics say offering the Pill sends the wrong message to vulnerable children.
Thursday April 26,2012
By Sarah O’Grady, Social Affairs Correspondent
GIRLS as young as 13 should be able to receive the Pill from a local chemist without seeing their GP, say researchers.
But the call has prompted warnings from medical experts and pro-family campaigners who say the contraceptive must not be doled out “like Smarties”.
They also point out that sex at 13 is illegal and offering the Pill sends the wrong message to vulnerable children.
The controversial recommendation follows an evaluation of a pilot scheme in Southwark and Lambeth, in south London, which offered contraception to over-16s in pharmacies.
The study, by NHS South East London, found 46 per cent of the teenagers who used the service had never taken the Pill before. The report, published in the medical newspaper Pulse, says the scheme should be rolled out nationwide and commissioners should consider widening it to girls aged 13 to 16.
But Dr Trevor Stammers, of the Family Education Trust pressure group, said such a move would hinder parents who do not want their children to have underage sex.
If this scheme becomes widespread there could be deaths – and then there will be a public outcry.
“Parents are trying to ensure their children do not engage in underage sex and this will be counter-productive on that front,” he added. “The Pill is not a Smartie.”
Health risks of the Pill include blood clots and higher incidents of some cancers.
Dr Stammers said: “If this scheme becomes widespread there could be deaths – and then there will be a public outcry.
“There is no evidence that increasing availability of the Pill reduces unwanted pregnancies.” GP Fiona Cornish, president-elect of the Medical Women’s Federation, also said she was “uneasy” about pharmacy distribution without GP assessment. “GPs check for safety and do the education side,” she added.
The Department of Health said it supported pharmacy access for under-16s, with proper safeguards – for example, pharmacists should ensure that young people understood all the issues, including encouraging them to talk to their parents.
“Young people should think carefully before they have sex,” a spokesman added. “They should seek advice about contraception and sexually-transmitted infections.
“Health professionals should be fully satisfied that the young person understands all the issues before they prescribe any contraceptive.”