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Teenage pregnancy – the reason why confidentiality law must be upheld


Jenny Billings, Research Fellow in the Centre for Health Services Studies at the University of Kent, has responded to the current controversy surrounding the legal challenge to a law that allows young girls to have abortions without parental knowledge by saying, ‘Confidentiality is at the forefront of teenagers’ minds when they are using sexual health services.’

Billings, an experienced researcher and lecturer with a special interest in health service research and evaluation, particularly with regard to children, families, and teenage pregnancy, has just completed a major study on teenagers’ views and experiences of sex and relationships education, sexual health services and family support services in Kent.

She says: ‘When we asked teenagers what they thought was the most important feature of a sexual health/young person’s clinic, 90 percent of them reported that “confidentiality” was very important, followed by “not telling my parents”. This was reinforced by an unusually high number of written statements such as “promise of confidentiality”, “a guarantee that parents will not be informed” and “I think that children and teenagers should be able to trust the person they are talking to, and know what they are doing or telling that person is confidential”.’

Jenny Billings added, ‘Teenagers are therefore very concerned about confidentiality and trust when they go to clinics for contraception and sexual health advice. So if they lose confidence in the services and feel their confidentiality will not be protected for the more serious issue of abortion, the chances are they will not turn to trained professionals for help and advice, and this could cause them to be very isolated. These are some of the reasons why the confidentiality law must be upheld.’

Gary Hughes | alfa
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