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Friday, December 4, 1998 Published at 18:39 GMT


Anti-abortion groups to leaflet Boots

Boots stores are facing protests this weekend

Anti-abortion groups are planning to leaflet Boots stores to protest about its plans to issue free contraceptives at a family planning clinic for young people.

Local branches of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) will leaflet Boots stores in England and Wales on Saturday.

A nationwide boycott is being planned as well as a campaign to encourage the companies' shareholders to disinvest.

They say Boots' decision to set up an in-store family planning clinic at the chain's Glasgow stores will encourage young women to get pregnant and increase the number of teenage abortions.

The clinic, which will have no lower age limit or need for parental consent, is due to open this week. It is a joint venture between Boots and the Greater Glasgow Community and Mental Health NHS Trust.

Facilitating illegal acts

A spokesman for SPUC said: "This will bring more pregnancies and abortions."

"What Boots is doing is facilitating and encouraging those having and contemplating underage sex. Having recognised bodies in authority facilitating an illegal act, it will not be surprising if more have underage sex," he added.

Glasgow Health Board, which is running the clinic, says the service is the same as is on offer at family planning clinics throughout Scotland, where the average age of attenders is 17.

Catriona Renfrew, director of commissioning, said Boots was just providing "a venue for the service, nothing more".

"Unwanted teenage pregnancy has been identified by the government as an issue of great concern and we have a duty to ensure young people can make informed choices and protect their own health and the health of others, she said.

Glasgow Pollock MP Ian Davidson and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) have backed the clinic.

A spokeswoman for the BPAS said: "Our view is that teenage sex is part of teenage life today. We can help young people avoid pregnancy by providing easily accessible contraception, or we can hinder their responsible attempts to avoid pregnancy by denying them the services they need.

Britain has the highest level of teenage pregnancies in Europe.

Boots said the clinic was in line with government health objectives.

High Street abortions

The Pro-Life Alliance is also staging a demonstration outside the St Enoch Boots in Glasgow on Saturday.

[ image: Anti-abortion campaigners say the clinic will bring more abortions]
Anti-abortion campaigners say the clinic will bring more abortions
Chairman Michael Willis said: "We find it incredulous that the board of the Boots Company plc can promote abortion and contraception to underage girls in the middle of Glasgow.

"We have come full circle from 'back street' abortions to 'High Street' abortions."

The Universe, a leading Catholic newspaper, and anti-abortion group Life have also called for a boycott of Boots, accusing the store of promoting promiscuity among young girls.

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