Letter: Pregnancy is no crime

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The Independent Culture
Sir: To represent teenage parents as "irresponsible and selfish children" (letter, 23 December) is not a method for reducing teenage pregnancies. It is, however, an easy way to make teenage parents feel worthless and isolated. Mr Startup's comments are an unhelpful addition to the amount of prejudice they already face and are reminiscent of the attitude many Conservative MPs have notoriously taken towards single mothers.

Unplanned teenage pregnancy is a social problem which needs to be addressed in a non-judgmental and realistic manner. With lower rates of teenage pregnancy than Britain, the secret of continental countries is surely not a moralising approach. How about more detailed sex education begun at an earlier age, or improved access to free contraception? Mr Startup would probably baulk at the suggestion that the morning-after pill might be available from Boots with a few words of advice from the pharmacist, but isn't it workable?

Investigating the influence of the consumer society, the education system and the family situation and then proposing solutions based on information not ignorance would be much more fruitful than condemnation. The closing words of Mr Startup's letter, "That might deter others," are the most offensive, using language that assumes that teenage pregnancy is a crime - and premeditated.

VICKY MILNES

Stanford in the Vale, Oxfordshire

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