Emergency Contraception to Be Available in UK Schools?

A committee comprised of medical experts from the United Kingdom's National Health Service is advocating that the Scottish government approve of a plan that would make contraception, including the morning-after pill, available in schools.

"Making the morning-after pill available in this way sends out the message that there is nothing wrong with sex at any age," said Jackson Carlaw, a Scottish health spokesman. He added that this type of action is bound to "breed complacency."

Students are able to obtain the morning-after pill as well as condoms during school hours from what's been labeled as drop-in clinics. So far, there are seven of these so-called drop-in clinics in seven high schools across Dumfries and Galloway, but the new plan would expand that coverage to all schools.

The advocacy group, the Scottish Sexual Health Lead Clinicians Group (SSHLCG), has called for students to have wider and greater access to contraception while accusing government officials of ducking the issue.

"Why is emergency contraception not available in schools? Why are condoms and contraception not accessible? Vaccination against a sexually transmitted infection (HPV) is given in schools, why can't pregnancy and other STIs be prevented?" the SSHLCG said in a statement.

But parents and religious leaders are worried that not enough time is being spent for instruction in school and are worried that girls as young as 13, who attend public schools, will have access to emergency contraception without notifying the students' parents.

Critics argue that the primary objective for schools is to provide a first-class education to students while leaving the health matters to medical professionals. Blurring the lines would only add to confusion for students and added problems for parents.

"Schools have a relationship with children for 4 possibly 6 years, the relationship of a child with a parent is life long and it's parents who have to pick up the pieces from this kind of behavior. We want to protect children," said Ann Allen, a Family Education Trust executive member. She thinks the program was "very ill-conceived and badly thought out."