13-year-olds given access to contraceptive pill in Britain
Teenage girls aged as young as 13 are being given the contraceptive pill without their parents' knowledge under a pilot scheme in Britain, officials said Monday.
The scheme, on the Isle of Wight in southern England, has sparked anger among some politicians and religious groups who say it undermines the authority of the family.
Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe -- in 2008, 60 out of 1,000 female teenagers aged between 15 and 19 fell pregnant in England and Wales. The figure was 7.8 out of every 1,000 for 13-15-year-olds.
Teenage girls aged 13 and over have been able to go to a pharmacy for the morning-after pill since 1998.
But the pilot scheme extends this at ten out of the Isle of Wight's 30 pharmacies so that they can also be given the pill.
Dr. Jenifer Smith, director of public health at NHS Isle of Wight, said: "The main aim is to safeguard vulnerable young people who in some circumstances find it difficult to speak to their parents about these important issues.
"However all professionals who come into contact with vulnerable young people seek to encourage the involvement of a parent or other responsible adult."
Others criticised the move, though.
"How can adults bring up their children if their children can go into a shop, more or less, and be handed over something which is so significant?" local lawmaker Andrew Turner said in comments quoted the BBC.
© 2010 AFP