05.08.2021

This Morning viewers fury over contraceptive implant given to kids

Girls as young as 12 being given a contraceptive implant on the NHS without parental consent has been branded as ‘neglect’.

Furious This Morning viewers took to social media to vent their anger after it was revealed more than 10,500 underage girls had been given the device by doctors in the past two years.

Presenters Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby questioned the morality of being able to offer contraception to children who are not legally allowed to have sex, but still needed parental permission to go on school trips. 

Rachel Halliwell, who has an 11-year-old daughter, appeared on the ITV show alongside mother-of-two and ex-reality star Rebecca Jane, and expressed her fury at parents being left out of the decision-making process. 

She said: ‘If my 11-year-old daughter wanted to get her hair coloured or her ears pierced, that couldn’t have happened without my consent.

‘Yet she equally could have gone along to a family planning clinic and had a device fitted and I would have known nothing about it.’ 

Viewers watching at home agreed, venting their fury on Twitter, with one saying: ‘Why on earth would you allow a 12 year old to have an implant? This is disgusting. 

Scroll down for video. 

This Morning held a debate about whether it is acceptable for children as young as 12 to have the contraceptive implant

This Morning held a debate about whether it is acceptable for children as young as 12 to have the contraceptive implant

This Morning held a debate about whether it is acceptable for children as young as 12 to have the contraceptive implant

Rachel Halliwell (left), who has an 11-year-old daughter, appeared on the ITV show alongside mother-of-two and ex-reality star Rebecca Jane (right)

Rachel Halliwell (left), who has an 11-year-old daughter, appeared on the ITV show alongside mother-of-two and ex-reality star Rebecca Jane (right)

Rachel Halliwell (left), who has an 11-year-old daughter, appeared on the ITV show alongside mother-of-two and ex-reality star Rebecca Jane (right)

Viewers at home vented their anger at children as young as 12 being allowed to have the contraceptive implant without their parent's knowledge

Viewers at home vented their anger at children as young as 12 being allowed to have the contraceptive implant without their parent's knowledge

Viewers at home vented their anger at children as young as 12 being allowed to have the contraceptive implant without their parent’s knowledge

‘Age of consent is 16 and this should not budge. Allowing an implant is basically condoning your underage daughter to have sex!’

‘If your 12 year old is having sex then you as a parent should be done for neglect,’ added another viewer. 

‘How is she supporting a 12 yr old having a foreign body like the contraceptive bar put into their body.’

One person fumed about how in some areas of the country the devices are being fitted in schools: ‘Has the world gone mad?! 12 year olds on a contraceptive injection. Utter madness. 

‘What we should be asking is WHY are 12 year olds having sex and dealing with that not stuffing them full of injections without parental consent/knowledge!’

Others defended the procedure, which can be carried out by a specially trained nurse and does not have to be signed off by a doctor, suggesting that contraception was not just used for preventing pregnancy but for medical issues.

‘Also the implant isnt just for sex, it helps to regulate periods and other things,’ said one.

‘The implant isn’t just to stop you getting pregnant though – maybe the under 16 year old just has other reasons to need it like hormone control or to reduce heavy painful periods for example..?’ suggested another.

Other viewers suggested that children should be educated about sex and that the contraception could be used in medical cases

Rachel Halliwell, left, was firmly against the idea of a contraceptive implant at 12, where as former reality star Rebecca Jane thought it was a ‘fantastic idea’ 

FIGURES RELEASED BY NHS ABOUT THE IMPLANT PROCEDURE

Figures from NHS Digital show that 10,593 girls aged 15 or under were fitted with the devices in 2015/16 and 2016/17. 

This included at least 39 girls aged 12 or under, although this is likely to be an underestimate.

The figures also show that the number of underage girls being fitted with implants has more than trebled in ten years. 

A total of 4,676 girls aged 15 or younger were given them in 2016/17 compared to just 1,400 in 2006/7. 

Former Big Brother star and mother-of-two Rebecca Jane, 32, said: ‘I think it is a fantastic idea. I think it’s wonderful. I don’t understand anybody who would have a problem with this.

‘We have a major problem in society with teenage pregnancies and I think anything we can do to try and combat that is a good thing.’

But fellow mother, Rachel Halliwell, disagreed: ‘If my 11-year-old daughter wanted to get her hair coloured or her ears pierced, that couldn’t have happened without my consent.

‘Yet she equally could have gone along to a family planning clinic and had a device fitted and I would have known nothing about it.’

Rachel wasn’t pleased that parents were being left out of the decision-making: ‘They’re just babies.’

She added: ‘If you have a 12-year-old having sex then I think something has gone horribly wrong somewhere along the way.’

The UK has the highest teen pregnancy problem in western Europe and Rebecca Jane said she felt that society needed to take action. 

However Rachel believed that parents should be part of the conversation, to which Phillip added.

‘Your child goes to school and if they want to go on a school trip they have to get parental consent, but not parental consent to be given a contraceptive so at 12, 13 or 14 you can begin your active sex life?’

Dr Sara Kayat explained the procedure but said age certainly came into question when deciding if they can have the implant

Dr Sara Kayat, who appeared via live video link on the daytime show, said that she wouldn’t carry out the procedure on underage children unless there had been considerable conversation surrounding the need for the implant.  

‘When it comes to under 16-years-olds there is a grey area when it is 14 or 15-year-olds… There is often that maturity in some that isn’t there in others.

‘If it is 13 and under there does require a lot more conversation,’ she said.  

Dr Kayat added: ‘I wouldn’t give the implant to a 12 or 13-year-old without having those conversations and certainly it becomes a safeguarding issue.

‘You have to get paediatricians involved to have that chat because it is not legal to be having sex at that age. So those ten minute [consultations] will get thrown out of the window but it is absolutely important.’   

This Morning airs weekdays on ITV at 10.30am 

What is the contraceptive implant?Devices beneath skin of 10,500 under-16s

The contraceptive implants are matchstick-sized tubes which are inserted under the skin of the arm.

They last for three years and work by releasing a steady dose of the hormone progesterone. This prevents ovaries from releasing an egg every month and also thickens the lining of the cervix – preventing sperm from entering.

In addition, it thins the lining of the womb, making it less likely that a fertilised egg can implant.

The contraceptive implants are matchstick-sized tubes which are inserted under the skin of the arm

The implants – known by the brand name Nexplanon – can be fitted by a specially trained GP or nurse. Girls undergo a brief consultation to ensure they do not have any underlying health conditions which would put them at risk. These include heart disease, liver disease or being pregnant.

Side effects include mood swings, disrupted or constant periods, headaches, pain and weight gain.

In rare cases the implants have been inserted incorrectly and travelled to the lungs or major veins.

Experts say they are 99 per cent effective and far more reliable than remembering to take the Pill or using a condom. They take only a few minutes to be fitted and girls are given a local anaesthetic. 

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