Hat tip to Marti
Abortion lessons for schoolchildren
Schoolchildren should be given compulsory lessons about the benefits of abortion, ministers' advisers on sex education claim.
Abortion should be included in teaching about sex to ensure that girls who become pregnant 'can make an informed decision' about whether to have one, they said.
And the abortion teaching should combat 'myths' that turn teenagers away from terminating their pregnancies, a report for ministers said.
It cited the idea that abortion can lead to infertility as misleading.
The recommendation from the Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy would mean - if accepted by the Government - that pupils would be taught about abortion from the age of 11.
But they could also have abortion lessons in primary schools that teach children from the age of five.
The group, which reports to Education Secretary Alan Johnson and Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt, has repeatedly called for sex education classes to be made compulsory and to include testing for all pupils down to the age of five.
At present only secondary schools need to provide sex education lessons, and parents have the right to withdraw their children. Primary schools must by law have a policy on 'personal, social and health education', but do not need to provide lessons.
Gill Frances, head of the advisory group, said in a message to ministers yesterday: "Pregnant young women and their partners need to understand all the options open to them, including abortion, so that they can make an informed decision about whether or not to continue with their pregnancy.
"We are concerned that PSHE programmes very often avoid the subject and do not provide sufficient evidence-based information about abortion, therefore leaving pregnant teenagers ill-equipped to assess abortion as an option."
She added: "Many myths prevail, including the fact that abortion may lead to infertility, which the Advisory Group is concerned may be a contributory factor to repeat abortions."
The call for teaching on abortion comes at a time of widespread concern over the easy availability of abortion for schoolchildren and the way young girls are offered abortion without the knowledge of their parents.
Two years ago there was uproar when an abortion was procured for 14-year-old schoolgirl Melissa Smith by a 21-year-old school 'outreach worker' without the knowledge of the girl's mother.
This year the High Court confirmed the right of health worker to organise abortions for girls under 16 without informing their parents.
Each year around 4,000 abortions are performed on girls under 16, with another 35,000 on girls between 16 and 19.
The advice for ministers brought protests from anti-education groups and fresh condemnation from critics of the Government's sex education-based campaign to reduce teenage pregnancies.
Phyllis Bowman of Right to Life said: "It is absolute rubbish to say that young people do not know about abortion. They know only too much about abortion.
"The education establishment has continued to ignore the results of 30 years of its policies on sex education which has pushed abortion under the noses of young people."
Anastasia de Waal of the Civitas think tank said: '"The problem is not that young people do not have enough information about sex, contraception and abortion. The problem is that they do not have enough information about single parenthood.
"We know that an awful lot of young girls who get pregnant do so deliberately in order to have a baby because they think they will gain by it.
"We should forget about teaching them more about sex and education and instead teach them about the harsh outcomes of teenage pregnancy."
The Advisory Group report called for more state spending to make the lives of teenage single parents more comfortable. It said they should have 'personal advisers to provide an all-encompassing package of support'.
Those who do not wish to live with their parents should always get 'high quality supported housing' rather than 'inappropriate temporary housing'.