In a joint statement on the Family Planning Summit being held in London today, Simon Blake CEO of Brook and Julie Bentley CEO of FPA said:
“We believe the Family Planning Summit is extremely important. And we are delighted that the government has committed investment and resources to international family planning. However, we are also conscious that at this time of great UK leadership within the international community, sexual health in the UK is under renewed and sustained attack, the likes of which haven’t been seen in over a decade.
“Today in England, there are London boroughs where women are restricted in accessing contraception. Intimidation and harassment of women visiting abortion services is increasing, with abhorrent vigils and pickets outside clinics. On top of this there is hysterical and ill-informed condemnation of good quality, appropriate sex and relationships education resources. This generates unnecessary concern among parents, and scares professionals from using resources in the classroom.
“Even more absurd, in Northern Ireland – part of the UK – most women are not entitled to access abortion services. And those that need an abortion have to pay for one themselves. This is despite being subject to the same taxes as people in the rest of the UK.
“It is of course crucial that the UK government plays its part in supporting sexual and reproductive choices on a global level. The best way to do this is to set an example of excellence in the UK. We urge the UK Government to put its own house in order and ensure that the progress made to improve sexual health outcomes in recent years is sustained through this period of great change in health and education systems.”
Brook and FPA are issuing this statement in reaction to the following:
Restricted access to contraception
The report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health in the UK (APPG) Inquiry into restrictions in access to contraception services found that restrictions included:
The removal of the Living and Growing DVD
Channel 4 Learning has withdrawn its Living and Growing DVD resource with effect from 7 July 2012.
Channel 4 Learning has stated that this is a result of the government’s review of the personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education curriculum. This review is still underway and Living and Growing is an age-appropriate resource which has been used in primary schools for many years.
Abortion law in Northern Ireland
The 1967 Abortion Act, which governs abortion provision in Britain, only applies in England, Scotland and Wales. When the Act was debated and passed by Parliament in 1967 it was not extended to Northern Ireland.
In stark contrast to how women can access services in the rest of the UK, it is virtually impossible for women in Northern Ireland to obtain an abortion on the NHS.
More information about restrictions to abortion in Northern Ireland.
Brook is the UK’s leading provider of sexual health services and advice for young people under 25. The charity has over 45 years of experience working with young people and currently has services in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Jersey. Brook services provide free and confidential sexual health information, contraception, pregnancy testing, advice and counselling, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and outreach and education work, reaching over 300,000 young people every year.
Ask Brook helpline 0808 802 1234.
The sexual health charity FPA provides straightforward information, advice and support to all people across the UK on all aspects of sexual health, sex and relationships. FPA educates, informs and supports people through our work in the community, our helpline and information service, our counselling service, our training and publications and our public awareness campaigns.
FPA helpline 0845 122 8690
Lines are open 24/7. Click to call.