Plan for more contraceptives on the NHS reveals conservative attitudes

// 26 October 2005

Women should be able to access a wider range of contraceptives on the NHS, including injections that protect against pregnancy for three months, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence has said today.

But this has drawn a predictably venomous response from all the usual quarters, including the Daily Mail. It\x92s worth pointing out, the print version of the Daily Mail had the more emotive headline \x91Charter for promiscuity\x92 splashed across its front page today.

Even the BBC quotes numerous sources such as Norman Wells, director of Family and Youth Concern, who thinks: “A far more effective way of achieving cost savings to the NHS would be to spell out the positive physical and emotional benefits of confining sexual intimacy to a faithful, lifelong relationship between a husband and wife.”

There\x92s a layer of sense here somewhere \x96 injections, just like the pill, do not protect against STIs, and there\x92s no harm in saying that again. But this is swamped by a reaction against something that could promote \x91promiscuity\x92. There is a noxious subtext here \x96 this is adult women, over the age of consent we are talking about. The idea that the NHS should withhold access to a form of contraception because it might encourage women to have sex is, frankly, offensive and irrelevant, even if it were true.

As Professor Allan Templeton, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said: “Women should be presented with all available choices of contraception, including long-acting reversible methods, as well as all known risks and benefits.

“This will ensure that women can choose and manage, after consultation with their doctor, their own contraceptive needs.”

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