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The BBC's Navdip Dhariwal
"Teenagers say they welcome anything about the subject"
 real 28k

Anne Weyman
"Teenagers want this information"
 real 28k

Friday, 9 June, 2000, 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK
Fury at teenage abortion advice
Abortion booklet
The booklet is aimed at 14- to 18-year-olds
Anti-abortion groups are angry at a new booklet offering advice to teenagers as young as 14.

The campaigners have branded it "an abuse of children" and say it is misleading.

The booklet, published by the Family Planning Association (FPA), includes information on UK abortion law, attitudes towards abortion, and details of the procedures available.

Our research shows that young people do not regard abortion as taboo

Anne Weyman, Family Planning Association

Anne Weyman, FPA chief executive, accepted that the book would draw criticism from the pro-life lobby.

But she said: "Our research shows that young people do not regard abortion as taboo.

"They are quite clearly telling us that they want and need more information on all aspects of sexual health."

Ms Weyman said the booklet, Abortion - just so you know, was intended as a resource to aid discussion of the subject in schools or other youth group settings.

However, Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said the booklet - aimed at 14 to 18-year-olds - was riddled with inaccuracies.

He said: "We regard this booklet as an abuse of children.

"A young woman who reads this booklet will be thoroughly misinformed about what an abortion will do to her and her baby."

Extensive testing

The booklet was tested extensively by 800 teenagers in schools and youth clubs.

In 1999 in England and Wales, 36,257 teenagers had abortions, of which 3,578 were under 16.

In an FPA focus group of 13-year-olds, 41% said they knew either a friend or a relative who had had an abortion.

We regard this booklet as an abuse of children

Paul Tully, Society for the Protection of Unborn Children

Some 76% of those questioned felt that abortion should be discussed as part of sex education at school and 73% said they wanted greater access to information on issues like sex, pregnancy, contraception and abortion.

However, factual knowledge about abortion among this group is low.

Half believe that having an abortion would make it difficult to have a child later in life and over a third (35%) would not know where to go for advice if they had an unplanned pregnancy.

The government has proposed that abortion should be addressed in sex education lessons.

The FPA says research shows young people who receive a comprehensive sex education at school are less likely to have under age sex and more likely to use contraception.

Mr Tully said the booklet gave no accurate impression of the procedures that some abortions required.

Neither did it refer to research linking induced abortion to breast cancer later in life, or to other associated dangers such as chlamydia, ectopic pregnancy and infertility.

He said: "This booklet provides only the platitudes that abortion providers want their clients to hear."

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23 Jun 99 | Health
GPs support easier abortion
14 Mar 00 | Health
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07 Feb 00 | Health
Women 'denied abortion choice'
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