Offering free morning-after pills (MAPs) in Wales has had little impact on teenage pregnancy, a BBC documentary has revealed.
Research into a pilot scheme in Bridgend showed despite increased uptake “the trend in conceptions for Bridgend was not significantly different to the rest of Wales”.
The MAP, which has been available free from pharmacies throughout Wales since April, can cause an early stage abortion.
Week In Week Out, a BBC Wales programme, was looking at the new controversial policy. It featured a pregnant 15-year-old girl who said she thought giving out the MAP was encouraging teens to have sex.
And Monsignor Robert Reardon, of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cardiff, said the MAP demonstrates a separation between sex and responsibility.
The programme also revealed that the Welsh Assembly Government’s pharmacy scheme will cost up to £300,000 a year – money to be found from existing NHS budgets.
The research uncovered by the BBC was compiled by a specialty registrar at the National Public Health Service for Wales.
The new Welsh Health Minister declined an interview, but a statement from the Welsh Assembly Government said the MAP scheme was “not part of our strategy to reduce teenage conceptions”.
In April the Welsh MAP scheme faced strong criticism, being labelled as “ill-thought out”, “knee-jerk” and “absolutely the wrong way to address the problems of high rates of teenage pregnancy in Wales”.
Under the scheme pharmacists are allowed to give the MAP to under-16s if they believe it is “clinically appropriate”.
Dr Peter Saunders, CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship, said the move was “underpinned by the dangerous assumption that there is no right or wrong in teenage sexual activity – just choice”.
Josephine Quintavalle, of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: “The idea that young girls can just walk into a chemist will mean they become even less responsible about sexuality.”