Babies and children * Young people

Girls aged 13 to get the pill at pharmacies

Age 13 girls to get the pill at pharmacies Without parental consent

A controversial scheme which enables girls as young as 13 to get the pill from pharmacies is being piloted on the Isle of Wight.

In an attempt to cut down the number of teenage pregnancies, girls on the island will be able to get a month's supply of the pill without the consent of their parents or the need to see a doctor.

After a month has passed, girls must visit their GP or sexual health nurse for more supplies. Ten of the island's 30 pharmacies will take part in the scheme.

Church and local campaign groups have come out against the decision.

Andrew Turner, the Tory MP for the island, said the scheme was "appalling", and said he would take the matter up with Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

"We expect parents to take responsibility for their children - they are undermined if the NHS hands out contraceptives to girls with no examination or consideration of their circumstances.

"Underage sex is illegal and dangerous," he added.

Jennifer Smith from the Isle of Wight NHS Primary Care Trust defended the decision to allow young teenagers access to the pill: "They are already sexually active, we haven't encouraged them to be sexually active.

"I would suggest that what we're doing is being entirely responsible by providing [contraception to] these most vulnerable women, for whom, for the most part, pregnancy is not a good outcome.

"We are linking them with people most able to support them in further decision-making and appropriate behaviour in the future."

This article was published on Mon 1 November 2010

Image © Brian Jackson -

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