The U.K. media today is reporting that Ministers of Parliament are trying to push GPs to give the contraceptive jab to girls to stem the tide of teenage pregnancy. The hysterical, scare quotes media is putting emphasis on age (“girls as young as 13!!!”) and rasising the spectre that there’ll be a crazed Nurse Ratchett running around school sticking girls with anti-baby drug-filled needles.
In fact, when you look more closely at the reports, what the Ministers are advocating are school-based contraceptive clinics and developing sexual health services. Callers to BBC Radio London were egged on by the host’s characterization of the jab as “mandatory for all girls age 13 without parental consent leading to unfettered promiscuous sex.” Way to extrapolate (read: tell bold face, yellow journalism lies). There’s, of course, no mention in news reports of better, sustained sex education or even a gender-conscious approach to respectful and consensual sexuality education.
Far more disturbing, however, is the complete absence of concern about the eugenicist air of such a scheme. Take, for example, the report in The Times:
“The policy of offering [the contraceptive jab or implants] to teenagers is likely to prove controversial. In the past, some doctors have been criticised for offering them to poorer women and those from ethnic minorities without explaining possible side-effects, which include headaches and weight gain [emphasis mine].”
Erm…can we just stick with the first part of the last sentence for a mo? While side-effects are of concern, perhaps we might draw on histories of women of color and poor women effectively being sterilized without consent as the real issue here? Given that the jab makes one sterile for up to three years, I think explaining the primary effect of sterilization might take precedence as a human rights issue over weight gain.
I’m far from advocating doing nothing, but this sounds like an unethical attempt to revisit sterilization abuse in hopes of saving money on social services.
The blog Mississippi Appendectomy is doing great archival work on sterilization abuse.