Cardinal calls on Scottish Government to end "failing" sexual health
Monday 21 January 2008
In a strongly worded response to the Scottish Government's "Sexual
Health Strategy Second Annual Report" (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/
Publications/2007/12/06152307/0) published last week, Cardinal Keith
O'Brien has accused the SNP administration of supporting a strategy
"which they did not devise and which has demonstrably failed". In a
letter to the Minister for Public Health, Shona Robison MSP, the
Cardinal quotes a "catastrophic decline in sexual health as measured
by all the relevant indicators" and repeats his 2004 call for the
Government to "consider alternative approaches to sexual health,
which set sexual activity within a moral context".
The full text of the letter is shown below:
Catholic Media Office
5 St. Vincent Place
0141 221 1168
Having read the Scottish Government's "Sexual Health Strategy Second
Annual Report" I am writing to you to express my
deep disappointed that the Scottish Government continues to support
a sexual health strategy which they did not devise and which has
Scotland has as you know one of the worst records in Europe on
"sexual health" yet we continue to pursue approaches which are patently flawed. By far the most glaring omission in the current orthodoxy, is the intentional absence of any moral framework.
This is an utterly inadequate vision for the future health of our
citizens. Trumpeting the increased provision of Sexual Health Clinics and
services is a measure of failure not success. A strategy akin to permanently
Stationing an ambulance at every accident blackspot in the country rather than educating drivers to improve their driving and to moderate their
Behaviour on our roads.
What this overview ignores completely is the catastrophic decline in
Sexual health as measured by all the relevant indicators:
Scotland's abortion rate continues to grow as does the number of
abortions - 13081 in 2006 a rate of 12.4 per/1000 women. Looking at teenage
Conceptions we see the same picture, since 2002 conception rates among the under 20's have gone up every year. Additionally, increased distribution and use of the morning after pill means that many conceptions are no longer recorded in the statistics, allowing us to conclude that Teenage Conception Rates are actually higher than officially recorded.
Statistics on STI's meantime are profoundly depressing, in the last ten
years cases of sexually transmitted infections in Scotland have doubled.
Between 2003 and 2006 alone, the period when this strategy has been in
force) there was an increase of 23%.Indicating that not only are the
Number of cases increasing but the rate of increase is accelerating.
In 2004, I called on the then Scottish Executive to "consider
Alternative approaches to sexual health, which set sexual activity within a moral context and provided young people with negotiating skills to resist peer pressure and support to enhance their self-esteem" At the same time, I
commented that the "solutions" being offered to deal with this crisis
Were "even more damaging and potentially devastating to the physical and
emotional health of generations of Scots." It is disheartening in the
extreme to see such predications come true. I can only urge once again
an end to these failing strategies and an infusion of morality in the
future. Lastly, I wish you every success in the many challenges you face in this area.
+Cardinal Keith O'Brien