A bill from the Ministry of Welfare submitted to parliament – which would give primary school nurses the authority to give birth control to students without parental approval – has aroused criticism. One parents group says parents need to take responsibility for their own children.
As reported, a new bill from the Ministry of Welfare would allowed nurses in primary schools to give birth control pills to students without informing their parents, provided the nurses pass a special course about the pill at the University of Iceland, and receive a permit from the Directorate of Health.
The bill has the backing of, among others, the Directorate of Health, with director Geir Gunnlaugsson telling RÚV, “We know that young people are having sexual intercourse at different ages. And we know that the average age of sexual intercourse for the first time among girls is about 15, which tells us that we need to help them protect themselves against disease and unplanned pregnancies.”
However, RÚV reports that Sigrún Björnsdóttir, a nurse in Austurbæjarskóli, said that she knows girls as young as 12 or 11 are already having sex, and that if the pill is made available in schools, many more will do so.
But the Ministry of Welfare says the bill is in part a response to the high levels of abortions among young women. Bryndís Jónsdóttir, director of the Alliance of Parents’ Associations and Parents’ Councils of Elementary Schools in Reykjavík, responded to Sigrún’s criticism by saying that parents need to take care of their own children first, if their children are having sex at the age of 11. She added that the discussion about contraception should not centre only around girls; boys need education, and to be taught personal responsibility, she said.
Sigrún said that there would be no way birth control pills would be given to 11-year-olds, and that she personally believes parents will not be kept in the dark; that most girls will want to talk about the decision to start taking the pill with their parents.