Friday, 13 February 2009

"NHS??? NH-Sex, more like!"

If there's one thing the Daily Mail hates (just one thing?), it's the mere idea that British teenagers are having sex. Actually, this is one area where the Mail and I almost see eye-to-eye, except in my case I don't restrict it to teenagers; my bitterness does not discriminate based on age. I mean, damn it, if I'm gonna be sat here on a Friday night tapping away on a blog about a shit newspaper I read just to annoy myself, then I don't want to be faced with the prospect that everyone else is out there banging each other stupid in some kind of big oiled-up hedonistic orgy to which I'm not invited.

If there's another thing the Mail hates, it's any kind of public policy which aims to reduce harm rather than wagging a finger at people and telling them that sort of behaviour is wrong. This applies to any kind of drug treatment programme (as opposed to hurling drug addicts in jail where they'll obviously be safe from drugs), and also to contraception for teenagers. Consequently, today the Mail are in a tizzy about this, in the story GPs to get bonuses for giving teenagers contraceptive implants and jabs without informing parents. You'd be forgiven for thinking from the headline that this would lead to GPs browbeating teenage girls into get contraceptive jabs:

Teenage girl: "Doctor, I tripped over and now my ankle is all swollen!"
Doctor: "Interesting...while you're here, have you ever considered getting a contraceptive implant so you can behave like the dirty little whore I know you are with impunity?"

Or, as a Mail rent-a-quote puts it:

Norman Wells, of the charity Family and Youth Concern, said: 'Parents of girls under 16 will be alarmed to think that doctors are going to be given financial incentives to provide their daughters with contraception behind their backs.

'It is tantamount to bribing doctors to facilitate underage sex.
At last, New Labour's 'MOAR UNDERAGE SEX!' agenda is laid bare. Somehow the story turns out to be a tad more prosaic than the bulk of the article suggests:

Doctors will be given the money if they achieve three indicators. Each point is worth about £124 for the practice.

They receive four points for producing a register of women prescribed contraception at least once in the last year. Another six are awarded if 90 per cent of those who have taken the morning-after pill or are on the Pill, are given advice on longacting contraceptive methods.

So, it turns out that they're merely getting points (they get awarded points in all kinds of areas, not just these) for advising people who are already having sex and have come to them to get contraception about the various contraceptive measures available, nearly all of which are more sensible than the morning-after pill, which really ought to be a last-ditch measure and should avoid becoming routine (something the Mail whines about in the annual 'KIDS ARE GONNA GET THE MORNING-AFTER PILL' furore). So, teenager comes in for contraception, gets contraception, plus advice about various other options. To the Mail, of course, the doctor should be peering over the top of his glasses and telling her how silly she's been, before ringing their parents and telling them about what their filthy sexy daughter has been getting up to. This seems a surefire way of ensuring that they never come to see the doctor for sexual health advice again and end up pregnant think about what they've done and devote their lives to abstinece and self-restraint.

The Mail can't really decide whether it's more against teenage pregnancy or teenagers using contraceptives; clearly the solution is to tell them to wait until their sixteenth birthday/wedding night, sit back with our fingers in our ears, and let teenagers' famous ability to resist their biological urges do the rest. Of course, there's still room to crank the fear levels up a notch, by getting hold of Jackie Fletcher's usual balanced opinion:

Jackie Fletcher, of the antivaccine group Jabs, said: ' Giving a doctor a monetary gain to promote a product is abhorrent, especially if it is a vaccine with possible side-effects.
Still, none of this seems quite shocking enough, so along comes a comment piece with the fair and accurate title Now GPs will be paid to 'encourage' girls to have sex. You got that? Not to advise girls who are already having sex about various methods of contraception other than the morning-after pill, but to actually encourage them to fuck. (For some reason I have the urge to link to Joe Cornish's 'Doctor Sexy' at this point, as I imagine this is broadly how these type of appointments will go now). For the Mail, this whole thing is just one step short of teams of doctors arriving at primary schools in a dick-shaped Fuck Bus, telling kids how awesome sex is, with a speech about the pregnancy-avoiding benefits of anal, delivered as volunteers hand out lube, bondage gear and peephole bras.

Actually, it's tempting to try and help Littlejohn out with his next column...

"Dear Richard Littlejohn (when are you going to run for Prime Minister, eh?!?!), just thought I should let you know about the PC Brigade's latest bonkers assault on family values! A cab driver told me that he knew this guy in Birmingham who'd read about this case where this guy's 13-year-old daughter had gone to her GP for a check-up and she walked out a LESBIAN! The doctor had advised her that the best way to avoid pregnancy and STDs is to just have sex with other girls!?!? Now her dad can't walk past her room without hearing Ani DiFranco records and the muffled sounds of sapphic experimentation. What's happening to this once-great country, Richard? Are you and me the only sane ones left? You couldn't make it up!!!"

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