BBC exposes the inefficacy of the ‘morning-after’ pill. Where’s the uproar?
Yet when the BBC screens a documentary about the inefficacy of the ‘morning-after’ pill, in which scientific evidence establishes that its widespread availability is actually exacerbating the problem of teenage pregnancy, there is silence from both the right and the left.
And the Church.
The programme was ‘Week In Week Out’ (still available on iPlayer).
The ‘morning-after’ pill acts to disrupt ovulation or fertilisation to prevent pregnancy. It is now freely available from pharmacies everywhere in Wales to anyone requesting this emergency ‘contraception’. Pharmacists are permitted to supply the pill to girls even as young as 13, without either parental knowledge or consent, in complete confidence. The producers of the programme set out to investigate whether this policy was helping or hindering the objective of reducing unwanted teenage pregnancies (and so abortions).
They interviewed a 15-year-old who is five months pregnant, who said: “I think handing out pills over the counter is just encouraging teenagers to have sex.”
You hear a GP express concern that pharmacists are supplanting family doctors, and being asked to assess the physical and mental health of young girls with the aid and guidance of a crass ‘tick-box’ questionnaire:
Dr Andrew Dearden of the BMA explained: “Doctors and GPs are trained to look at the whole person, not just one aspect or one part of care but the broadest aspect of their health.”
Pharmacists are concerned with the single issue of dispensing one pill.
Another GP, Dr Caroline Scherf, says that even after taking the morning after pill ‘there is still a very high chance they end up pregnant’.
We hear from the BMA that ‘there is no good evidence that it reduces teenage pregnancy rates’.
Professor David Paton of Nottingham University confirmed this, saying: “Contrary to what people were hoping, the introduction of the morning-after pill for young people didn’t have any effect in terms of reducing teenage pregnancies.”
And two-dozen studies in other countries say pretty much the same thing.
Further, Professor Paton said there is actually 12 per cent relative increase in STIs amongst under-16s in those areas where the morning-after pill is freely available from pharmacies.
So, the pharmacy scheme actually increases STIs by encouraging irresponsibility and riskier behaviour. This, of course, comes as no surprise to those who are concerned with the separation of sex and sexuality from the Christian moral framework. And yet state sex education largely detaches the physical act from the context of intimacy and love, from commitment and relationship.
The Welsh Assembly says in its ‘Sexual Health Action Plan’ that high rates of teenage pregnancy are a public health priority. The pharmacy scheme will cost Welsh taxpayers around £300,000 per annum, yet the BBC has established that it will have little or no effect on the rates of teenage pregnancy and so will not reduce the number of later-term abortions.
Health Minister Lesley Griffiths AM was asked whether she thought the pharmacy scheme was still a good way of reducing teenage pregnancies and invited to appear on the programme.
The request was declined.
Bizarrely, a spokesman said on her behalf that the scheme was an important part of the comprehensive sexual health service but it was ‘not part of our strategy to reduce teenage conceptions’.
If the ‘morning-after’ pill is not about lowering the rate of teenage pregnancy and abortion, what is it for?
This documentary was not only interesting; it was an excellent piece of investigative journalism on evidence-based policy. It is, in media terms, ‘a story’, every bit as newsworthy as Terry Pratchett’s descent into darkness.
So where is the uproar?
And why have those who were jumping over themselves to condemn the BBC for ‘Choosing to Die’ not been just as quick to praise the Corporation for this exposé?
Was it for lack of Sir Cliff as presenter?
Or is there something more to it?