75% oppose contraception for youths

THREE out of four adults oppose giving contraception to teenagers as young as 14 without parental consent, a new RED C poll shows.

A recent report by the Law Reform Commission suggested teens as young as 14 to 15 could have access to contraception.

The commission said doctors would be required to encourage the child to inform his or her parents, or guardians, consider the best interests of the patient and have regard to any public health concerns.

The Red C telephone poll of 1,000 adults found 77% opposed giving contraception to 14 and 15-year-olds without parental consent.

One in five said they supported the proposal while the remaining 2% did not answer or said they did not know.

Results of the poll were released yesterday by the Iona Institute in Dublin that promotes the place of marriage and religion in society.

On the same day the institute hosted a talk given by Prof David Paton of Nottingham University, a researcher on the economics of teenage pregnancy.

He pointed out that the pregnancy rate among Irish teenagers aged under 16 was only a sixth of England’s rate, despite it being a long standing policy in England to prescribe contraception to this age group.

He said Irish teenage birth and pregnancy rates were extremely low in comparison with countries such as England and Wales.

“The low pregnancy rate among minors in Ireland is so striking that caution is surely warranted before making significant changes to the legal position surrounding access to contraception for minors,” he said.

And, he said, evidence from peer-reviewed literature on the impact of increased access to family planning on contraception rates among minors was not encouraging.

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