The Moncton Hospital’s Reproductive Clinic is prescribing the birth control pill and, in some cases, a “morning after” pill to under-age teens – without parental knowledge or consent.

At least one 15-year-old girl was given the “morning after” pill when she went to the clinic by herself after having intercourse without using contraception.  She was also offered a prescription for the regular contraceptive pill.

The girl’s mother found out what was going on when her daughter complained of diarrhea and cramps from the drug.  The mother was not at all satisfied with clinic officials’ explanations about why her daughter was treated without parental consent.

Officials at the clinic told Moncton’s Times-Transcript reporter, Peter Boisseau that the “morning after” pill is prescribed there.  However, according to Health and Welfare Canada, there is no legal “morning after’ pill on the Canadian market.

Dr. David Walters, New Brunswick’s director of public health services, suggests that the federal department is “covering” itself and turning a blind eye to the fact that many doctors use the regular contraceptive pill as a “morning after” pill.  He says that doctors have known for a decade that a particular brand of the pill – one with a high dosage of progesterone – does work post-coitally on some women.

[Indeed, any brand of the contraceptive pill that contains progesterone, or progestin, acts as an abortifacient.  Progesterone increases the thickness of cervical mucus, preventing the sperm’s passage, and increases the thickness of the uterine lining, preventing implantation of the newly-conceived child.]

Moncton’s Reproductive Clinic is sensitive to charges that it is treating under-age teens without parental consent.  “We encourage every teenager who comes to us for birth control to discuss it with their parents and make sure they are making a knowledgeable decision,” Dr. Preston Smith, the clinic’s resident doctor, told Peter Boisseau.  However, if the young clients are reluctant to involve their parents, “they won’t be denied their rights,” he said.

Clinic nurse, Suzanne Savoie, acknowledged that some parents are “initially upset” when they find out their children have been treated without consent.  “But after talking to us, they all end up happy,” she said.

In New Brunswick, any girl 16 years of age or older can be prescribed the pill “without much difficulty” Peter Boisseau discovered.  Under 16, if they are “sexually mature and have a clear understanding of the treatment,” according to Dr. Smith, chances are they’ll get the pill.  Each case is examined “on its own merits,” he emphasized.

Clinic staff see their role as to treat their clients and not to “pass judgement” nor act “as informants to well-meaning parents.”  Many of the teenagers they see are those “who have already made a conscious decision to be sexually active before they arrive at our office.”  According to Dr. Smith, “the pill is the best alternative we have.”