Prescriptions of the morning-after pill have trebled in just three years in Scotland after pharmacists began giving the drug out to girls as young as 13.
New figures show more than 2,300 morning-after pills (MAPs), which can cause an early stage abortion, were handed out in Scotland every week last year.
Norman Wells, Director of the Family Education Trust, warned that the easy availability of the MAP is having a “damaging social effect, by lulling young people into a false sense of security”.
Around 40,000 MAPs were prescribed in 2007-8 but following a change in 2008 which allowed community pharmacists to give them out, prescriptions jumped to around 120,000 in 2010-11.
The figures come from research carried out for the Scottish Government. The research also found some NHS and pharmacy staff were calling for an end to Christian pharmacists’ right to decline giving the MAP.
Mr Wells said: “Research shows that making the morning-after pill more readily available doesn’t make the slightest difference to unintended pregnancy and abortion rates.
“The easy availability of the morning-after pill is having a damaging social effect, by lulling young people into a false sense of security and exposing them to a higher risk of sexually transmitted infections.”
In February a report found that handing out free MAPs to teenage girls in England did nothing to reduce teen pregnancies and may have led to diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) going up.
The study compared areas of England where the MAP was handed out free of charge with others that either declined to introduce the scheme, or did so at a later date.
The study, by Professor David Paton and Professor Sourafel Girma, found that rates of pregnancy among teenage girls remained the same, but STI diagnoses increased by five per cent in areas where the MAP was available for free.