A pilot contraceptives program under development in England has already drawn criticism from the Catholic Church. Under the proposed program, students at six schools in Oxfordshire, a county in southern England, would be able to use text messaging to access general medical advice and contraceptives, including emergency contraception, from a school nurse. According to the Telegraph UK, the program would be offered by the Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust and the Oxfordshire County Council and not directly through the schools.
One of the schools that may be part of the pilot program is a secondary Catholic school. Bishop William Kenney criticized the proposed program as being “against the very central idea the Catholic Church has on human life….I don’t think [the program] will help solve the teenage pregnancy rate. I think it’s taking away responsibility from parents,” reported the Press Association.
The program’s development is in response to a nearly 10% rise in teenage pregnancies between 2006 and 2007. In a joint statement from the Primary Care Trust and County Council, they defended the proposed program stating it “is not about giving out contraceptives in schools, it is about providing access to advice on a wide range of health issues from a school health nurse outside the school setting, to support vulnerable young people who may need help outside of school hours.” The statement continued, “it is not that the schools involved have high conception rates but rather, that they sit in wards that have been shown to have persistently high teenage conception rates,” reported the Telegraph UK.