A sub-committee of the Taranaki District Health Board has recommended that the morning after pill be free at pharmacies for those between 12 and 24 years of age. It also recommended that the costs of contraception at general practices be reduced and that education for youth about healthy sexuality be provided. The objective of these measures was to reduce the very high teenage pregnancies in Taranaki and was part of the development of Taranaki’s [youth] health strategy.
The morning after pill and contraception is not the solution. International research has consistently shown that access to the morning after pill does not result in a reduction of unplanned pregnancies, births, abortions and STDs. A recent study at the University of North Carolina revealed that increased access to the morning after pill resulted in an increase of sexually transmitted diseases. The results are similar to a British study conducted by staff at the Nottingham University in 2010.
In 2007 a review of twenty-three studies published between 1998 and 2006 and analysed by a team at Princeton University, measured the effect of increased access to the morning after pill on unintended pregnancy and abortions. Every study showed that there was no reduction in unintended pregnancies or abortions following increased access to emergency contraception.
In 2005 the World Health Organisation declared that the contraceptive pill including the emergency contraceptive pill was carcinogenic to humans. It increases the risk of breast cancer, cervical cancer and liver cancer.
- What studies has the government conducted in New Zealand on the effectiveness of emergency contraception in reducing unplanned pregnancies, abortions and sexually transmitted diseases?
- Why do our health authorities continue to encourage young women to take dangerous drugs such as the emergency contraceptive pill that are detrimental to their health?
- Why would the Board consider giving free emergency pills to children as young as 12 years of age without the knowledge and consent of parents?
The Taranaki District Health Board is commended for being concerned about the health and welfare of its teenagers. To effect a real change and a decrease in these disturbing statistics we need a behavioural change in teenagers. This can be achieved by encouraging them to practice chastity before marriage and faithfulness within it. Right to Life requests that the Health Board protects the health of the young women in their area by:
· Rejecting the recommendation of the Board’s sub-committee to provide free emergency contraception and reducing the charges for contraception.
· Introducing educational programmes that involve parents being involved, such as the Catholic Churches Theology of the Body lecture series which promotes chastity before marriage.