Contraceptive implant faces debate over use: A long-term birth control aid is allegedly being targeted on poor women in the US

NORPLANT, a long-acting contraceptive implant to be launched in Britain later this year, is being used to combat social problems of teenage motherhood and unwanted pregnancies in poorer women in the United States.

More than a dozen states have introduced Bills that encourage using Norplant as social policy and to cut welfare bills. This includes financial incentives for mothers on benefit to use Norplant, or requiring them to use it if they want to continue receiving money. In Maryland, extra funding has been allocated to make it available to more than 2,000 poor women.

A school in Los Angeles and another in Baltimore have added Norplant to the range of contraceptives on offer, and others are expected to follow. In addition, several court cases have resulted in rulings that women who have injured their children should use the implant. A judge in the Californian Superior Court ordered a mother of four, found guilty of abuse, to use Norplant or face a stiffer sentence. So far only one woman in Illinois, who murdered one of her children, has been fitted with Norplant.

Sandra Waldman, of the Population Council, a non-profit research organisation based in New York which developed the implant, said yesterday: 'People are using Norplant as a way of solving difficult (social) problems . . . that should be tackled in another way.' The state legislative action is aimed at women on welfare, while court action so far has dealt with women who have killed a child, she said.

The Norplant issue has been simmering away since the implant was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in December 1990. Shortly afterwards, the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper ran an article entitled 'Poverty and Norplant: can contraception reduce the underclass?' Journalists on the paper forced a retraction. But the controversy really took hold late last year when city council officials in Baltimore announced proposals to make Norplant available to teenagers through the school system in 1994. The city has one of the highest schoolgirl pregnancy rates in the country, with one in 10 girls between the ages of 15 and 17 getting pregnant in 1990. Black girls are particularly high-risk. Norplant, which does not rely on a teenager remembering to take the Pill, was seen as a solution. Others saw it as a 'tool of black population control'.

Ms Waldman points out that the controversy focuses on a minority of women, and it is not known how many states are actually putting legislation on contraceptive use into practice. She is concerned that 'politicisation' is detracting from the benefits of what is the most reliable long-acting and easily reversible contraceptive known.

'No woman should be forced to use a contraceptive and no woman should be denied one. The important thing is making an informed choice,' she said.

A spokeswoman for the Family Planning Association, which is compiling an information leaflet about Norplant, said that a similar controversy surrounded the contraceptive injection Depo-Provera, which is effective for three months. There have been reports of doctors using it in teenagers and women from ethnic minorities who do not use the Pill without their consent.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform