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Groups attack girl pill scheme

A new scheme that allow girls as young as 13 to be given the contraceptive pill without parental knowledge has been criticised.

In a move designed to cut the rate of teenage pregnancies, NHS Isle of Wight will provide young women with advice on contraception and sexual health, as well as a month's supply of the pill. Local church and community groups have attacked the scheme.

The Reverend Anthony Glaysher, parish priest at St Mary's Catholic Church in Ryde, told the BBC that it "fundamentally attacked the family".

The Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight, Andrew Turner, has also attacked the initiative.

He said: "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? I will be making my concern clear to the people who run the health service and they've got to understand that many people feel the same."

Dr Jenifer Smith, director of public health at NHS Isle of Wight, said the scheme would mean that a teenage girl seeking emergency contraception would be given a private consultation.

During this, the pharmacist would discuss the side effects and possible complications of contraception, provide advice on sexually transmitted infections, make a referral to the island's sexual heath service and provide a month's supply of the pill.

She said: "It is not for the health service to moralise on the rights and wrongs of under-age sex but earlier this year we identified a gap in the local arrangements."

Gary Warner, a community pharmacist on the Isle of Wight, said: "We are confident that it will help protect the young women from unwanted pregnancy but also from sexually transmitted infections by ensuring that they have the confidence and the access to our condom distribution scheme which is offered free of charge through the pharmacies on the island."

Copyright © Press Association 2010

(NHS Isle of Wight)