A UK government program that allows teenager girls to receive birth control implants at school without their parents' knowledge and consent has some parents outraged. Government officials say it's an effective way to combat teen pregnancy. Parents say it's a complete violation of their rights as parents. Morality-minded individuals are concerned that this will result in rampant sluttiness. Teenage girls sit sullenly texting and rolling their eyes. It's a tense situation all around.
The program outfits young women who choose to participate with Implanon, a 3-inch long plastic matchstick that's surgically installed beneath the surface of the skin under the arm. Implanon is a long-lasting form of birth control that is effective for 3 years before it must be removed, although it can be removed at any time.
Parents are complaining because they say the procedure isn't safe. According to one mother who spoke to the Telegraph, her 13-year-old daughter was given the device after filling out a short medical history form and without any consultation from their family doctor. Others say they've been "forced" to examine their daughters' arms to make sure they haven't tried to sneak around and get birth control behind their parents' backs. Another parent says that her right to protect her daughter has been taken away from her. Interesting choice of words.
Of course, no debate about teenage birth control use would be complete without some group that's concerned with sexual morality weighing in, and this controversy is no exception. The Family Education Trust claims that this program will lead to teenage girls feeling pressure to have sex from their boyfriends, who will insist they just get the implant installed at school. It will also lead to rampant promiscuity, echoing a stateside adage that birth control is a "license to do things."
Unfortunately for the what-about-the-children set, the program, which is in effect in nine schools, is perfectly legal, perfectly safe, and officials say it's effective. According to the Telegraph, teen pregnancy has decreased since the program's introduction.
Maybe one day everyone will understand that in much the same way that carrying an umbrella around doesn't cause it to rain, taking birth control does not cause anyone to have sex. Reducing teen pregnancy is a good thing, and because teenagers are not awesome at making good decisions, giving teenagers access to birth control is a good thing. But implanting long-lasting subcutaneous birth control at school without parental knowledge seems a little extreme. What happened to the pill, patch, or ring?