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Pilot Contraceptive Program on the Isle of Wight

November 1, 2010

While browsing the Telegraph today, my attention immediately fell on an article about a pilot birth control program on the Isle of Wight. Fascinated, I read through the article and clapped my hands.

Under the new program, teenagers as young as 13 will be able to get a month’s supply of contraceptive pills without a prescription – but only after approaching the pharmacist for the morning-after pill. After the first month’s supply, teenagers will have to make an appointment with their GP to get a full-time prescription. Ten pharmacies on the island will begin this new program, in hopes that it will reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. Religious groups, however, are calling the move ‘irresponsible’.

I think this program is a step in the right direction, even if it isn’t the answer to unwanted teenage pregnancy. If girls are already seeking out the morning-after pill, they need to be introduced to contraceptive options right away. The Isle of Wight Primary Care Trust has their priorities straight; making sure these girls are protected immediately, then following up in a manner that requires them to talk to someone in person about their sexual habits and safer practices. Sure, it’s not the ideal solution. More education on contraceptive use needs to be done not only for teenagers but also their caregivers. Parents need more training and advice on how to start conversations with their children about sex, without judgments or shame. Kids need to get over their fears and realize that, in most cases, the awkwardness of talking with their parents or a GP about sex is going to be much less stressful than dealing with an unwanted child. But you know, ultimately it’s scary. I was scared the first time I had to go and ask for birth control, and I had to send an email to my mother before I could stand to ask her questions about sex over the phone. I still haven’t been able to do it in person.

I laud the Isle of Wight for their creative approach to this worldwide issue. In the long run, we need to continue to find ways to make these conversations easier. But this is a start, and I’m thrilled for the girls whose lives may be changed for the better.

Read more about it at the BBC.


One Comment leave one →
  1. November 18, 2010 5:12 am

    This sounds like a brilliant idea. I’m very tired of religious groups assuming that if they don’t give teenagers the means to protect themselves, then this will somehow magically result in teens not having sex. What it does result in is unwanted children who need to be cared for.

    However, it’s not just the “awkwardness of talking to parents” (often necessary for setting up an appointment to get birth control) that’s involved here. Depending on the parent, dealing with parents can be genuinely scary or even dangerous. (Which was, as you remember, oh-so-much fun when I found that out first-hand.) It sounds as if this takes some steps to protect teens from those problems by allowing the one-month-without-a-prescription and requiring a GP rather than a specialist’s appointment. I think these are steps in the right direction to protecting teens both from pregnancy and from abusive situations.

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