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Thursday, 9 April, 1998, 01:01 GMT 02:01 UK
GPs believe under-age girls should get the pill
Doctors believe that teenagers will progress beyond holding hands
An overwhelming majority of family doctors believe that they should be able to give the contraceptive pill to girls under the age of consent, according to a report by the British Medical Association.

The survey for BMA News Review found that 94% of GPs were in favour of prescribing the pill to under 16s, and two-thirds of doctors felt they should not have to consult parents.

GPs believe the pill will not harm girls
The BMA also discovered that more than half did not feel they had a duty to give moral advice to youngsters who requested contraceptives.

But the BMA News Review survey questioned just 147 GPs, spread throughout the UK, who regularly form a panel for their opinion polls.

Despite the small sample, BMA News Review said that the strong views expressed by the GPs reflected the general attitude of family doctors.

Graham Scott, the magazine's acting news editor, said: "Given that 94% of the doctors thought contraceptive pills should be available on prescription to girls under 16, the impression is that this is the general feeling of all GPs."

The doctors were also invited to provide comments. West Sussex GP Hilary Platts said: "If we do not prescribe the pill then under-16s will go ahead and have sex anyhow. If we see them, we can spend time counselling them about health issues and giving them the choice to say 'no'."

Another GP, Donald Hynes from Somerset, commenting on whether doctors should offer moral advice, said: "In the current culture in which we live, this argument is no longer relevant. The discussion perhaps should be whether contraceptives should be mandatory."

The survey has been welcomed by the Chief Executive of Brook Advisory Centres, Margaret Jones. She said: "If we want to encourage young people to be responsible about their contraception, we have to ensure that they have good access to a wide range of methods and services.

"This survey also shows that nearly a quarter of GPs still believe that parents should be consulted before seeing a patient under 16. When news gets around by word of mouth that even one GP in the area would inform parents, teenagers are understandably reluctant to take the risk of visiting their GP for contraception."

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