Dr Phil Hammond, broadcaster and GP returner in Bristol

'As a doctor dishing out contraception, how can you live with yourself?'

'I'm sorry?'

'Is it not the case that you're peddling dangerous drugs to girls as young as 13, which encourages them to have sex before they're morally or physically mature?'

'Hang on, I don't peddle anything.'

'Have you ever given contraception to a girl as young as 13?'

'Yes, but we have strict guidelines to follow to ensure that she is capable of understanding the implications.'

'Oh really? Let me put it another way. Have you ever had a girl of 13 in front of you asking for contraception, who you've not given it to?'

'Er ... no.'

'Well, there you are then. Do you not think that you should say: This is illegal, you're not mature enough to have sex, I'm not going to give you contraception, I'm telling you to keep your pants on?'

'These girls are having sex anyway. I tell them the legal position, I explain the risks but I don't think I should moralize.'

'Do you have a daughter?'

'Yes.'

'Do you moralize to her?'

'Well, yes, but she's my daughter.'

'And if she asked for contraception at 13 would you give it to her?'

'I'd hope she wouldn't be having sex at 13.'

'I see; so there's one rule for your patients and another for your daughter?'

'I don't really see what my daughter has to do with ...'

'Let's get onto the subject of long-acting reversible contraception.'

'Certainly. It's an extremely good method of contraception, more effective and cheaper in the long term than the pill.'

'Yes, and it makes you blow up like an elephant and leaves you with pock marks that scar you for life.'

'I've certainly not heard of ...'

'Thank you, that's all we've got time for.'

'As a doctor dishing out contraception, how can you live with yourself?'

'Very easily. Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe and it's far better for women to be on safe, effective contraception than risk the psychological and physical damage of an unwanted pregnancy.'

'Is it not the case that you're peddling dangerous drugs to girls as young as 13, which encourages them to have sex before they're morally or physically mature?'

'Absolutely not. There is no evidence whatsoever that giving young women contraception encourages them to have sex. Most…'

'Oh surely that's… '

'Let me finish this point, it's very important. Most young women who come asking for contraception are making a very mature decision. We have strict guidelines to make sure they understand the implications and, to repeat, it's better for women to be on safe, effective contraception than risk an unwanted pregnancy.'

'Do you have a daughter?'

'My family life is private and entirely irrelevant to this interview. I have 20 years' professional experience, during which I've seen thousands of…'

'If your daughter was having sex at 13 ...'

'I find your interest in my daughter's sex life very disturbing.'

'Yes but the point is ...'

'The point is I was invited to talk about long-acting reversible contraception, which is a fantastic method of birth control for many women, and is more effective and cheaper in the long term than a daily pill.'

'And it makes you blow up like an elephant and leaves you with pock marks that scar you for life.'

'No it doesn't.The side-effects are few and, according to government guidelines, if we used it more we'd reduce unintended pregnancies.'

'Thank you, that's all we've got time for.'

'You're welcome.'

Guidelines in Practice, December 2006, Volume 9(12)
© 2006MGP Ltd
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