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Saturday, 16 March, 2002, 13:25 GMT
Tesco pill will 'increase' teen sex
Morning-after pill
Morning-after pill is available free at supermarkets
A move by supermarkets to offer the morning-after pill to young women will increase the risk of teenage pregnancies, a pro-life campaigner claims.

Tesco stores in Weston-super-Mare and Clevedon taking part in a pilot scheme aimed at cutting the number of teenage pregnancies are giving the pills out free to teenagers.

Nuala Scarisbrick, of Life charity, said: "We all want to prevent teenage pregnancies - but this is giving the green light to teenage sex.

"We need to give them the message they need which is that sex is precious and not just a one-night fling."

All our work is in the context of encouraging young people to say no if they do not want to have sex

Simon Bilous
Teenage pregnancy group

Ms Scarisbrick said she was "astonished that a family company like Tesco would seek to enter this very sensitive area".

The company said that everyone asking for the morning-after pill had to undergo a detailed interview before being given the pill.

Other shops in the area, including Boots and Sainsbury's, are also believed to be taking part in the project.

Simon Bilous, of North Somerset Teenage Pregnancy Group which is coordinating the scheme, told the BBC's Today programme: "This is a small part of a range of initiatives we have developed to tackle teenage pregnancy.

Sexual activities

"All our work is in the context of encouraging young people to say no if they do not want to have sex and only to engage in sexual activity if they feel ready for it.

"However, we do know that young people do engage in sexual activities, as we can tell by the number of teenage pregnancies in the UK, which is the highest in western Europe.

"In other countries in western Europe, where they have much more liberal approaches to these issues, the numbers have dropped, so it is not right to say that by making services unavailable it has the desired effect."

Mr Bilous confirmed that teenagers were not required to provide proof of age when obtaining the pill, but added that the stores' pharmacists had the same duty as any other pharmacist to use their judgment.

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See also:

30 Aug 01 | Americas
Chile bans morning-after pill
02 Jul 01 | BMA Conference
Emergency contraception 'should be free'
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