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The Morning-after Pill Available to Teenagers in Britain

Almost one out of every hundred teenage girls in Britain gets pregnant. That's the highest rate in Europe. Starting next week, teenage girls in Britain will be able to get the morning-after pill at their local pharmacies.

"Young people in this country are having sex very early, and a lot of them are having unprotected sex," says Dr. Jenny Tonge, MP. "What we want to try and stop is so many teenage pregnancies."

For years, the morning-after pill, which stops unwanted pregnancies has been available with a doctor's prescription for free. Now, for about 30 dollars, girls as young as sixteen will be able to pick it up at their local pharmacy without a prescription.

"The thing about the morning after pill is, that this is something where they can take life into their own hands," says Tonge, MP. "They can do something about it, they DON'T have to go and see a doctor."

These sixteen-year-olds like the change. "You automatically think you have to go to the clinic and that really doesn't appeal I know to me," says one teenager. "It's scary, and too embarrassing," quips the other.

The morning-after pill, or rather, a series of these pills taken over the space of a day, basically tricks a woman's body into rejecting a fertilized egg. It does have side effects, everything from headaches and nausea to, in extreme cases, blood clots and kidney failure.

"It makes it sound so easy, just go and take a pill," says Lynette Burrows, author of the book Fight for the Family. "They don't tell them how unpleasant it is, they don't say that it's a very risky pill to take, they don't say you are being a bit of a guinea pig but never mind."

And Burrows thinks, without the fear of accidental pregnancy, women of all ages are more likely to have unprotected sex, exposing themselves to a host of sexually transmitted diseases. "As night follows day all the figures for sexually transmitted disease and all the other negative figures - illegitimacy - will be up this time next year, and we'll be talking again about what went wrong."

Burrows' solution: teach them to use condoms, PLUS other birth control, or abstinence. The British government says, getting THAT message across will take a lot longer than 72 hours.

Kimberly Dozier, CBS News, London

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