Plans to provide pregnancy testing to thousands of secondary school girls in Liverpool have been condemned by family values campaigners.
Liverpool NHS Primary Care Trust (PCT) has confirmed that plans are afoot to establish sexual health drop-in clinics in five of the city’s secondary schools.
The controversial scheme, which is already operating in secondary schools in neighbouring Wirral, gives pupils on-site access to pregnancy testing, contraceptives, the morning-after pill and advice on sexually transmitted infections.
However, critics have warned that the scheme will normalise underage sex and increase promiscuity.
Norman Wells of the Family Education Trust said: “Sexual health clinics on school premises send out the message that it is normal for schoolchildren to engage in sexual activity.
“In the past, natural inhibitions combined with fear of pregnancy, legal proceedings and being found out by parents offered a powerful disincentive to under age sex.
“Confidential health clinics in schools are part of a mix that is removing the restraints which previously limited under age sexual activity.”
However, a spokesman for Liverpool PCT said: “National and international research evidences that if we are to improve young people’s sexual health and reduce the number of unplanned conceptions in young people under the age of 18, we must provide high quality sexual health education, and easy access to sexual health services for information and support.”
But Dr Adrian Rogers, founder of the Family Focus campaign, said: “There is already free, confidential testing and advice available at every GP’s surgery and family planning clinic.
“Offering this kind of service in the school setting is going to promote promiscuity. It is a complete waste of time and money and will prove counter-productive.”
The drop-in clinics are currently operating in 13 of Wirral’s 29 secondary schools and the five clinics in Liverpool are due to be opened later this year.
Last September the Scottish Government called for every Scottish secondary school to have a sex clinic.
And in 2008 it was revealed that one third of secondary schools provide on-site access to contraception, abortion advice and pregnancy tests.
A survey of over 2,000 secondary schools in England found that one in six schools are giving out the morning-after pill.