Ugandan MPs Reject Birth Control for 15-Year-Old Girls

Kampala, Uganda | THE BLACK EXAMINER | Uganda’s lawmakers have rejected a government proposal aimed at granting 15-year-old girls access to birth control pills as a means to combat the high levels of teenage pregnancy in the country.

Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa strongly criticized the idea, describing it as “devilish” and expressing concerns that it might “formalize the defilement of girls.”

A senior health ministry official emphasized the need to remove the “stigma” associated with young people using contraceptives.

According to a survey, nearly a quarter of girls aged 15 to 19 in Uganda are either already pregnant or have become mothers, a problem that escalated during the extended Covid-19 lockdown when schools remained closed for nearly two years.

During a heated parliamentary debate, MP Lucy Akello questioned whether the proposal amounted to lowering the age of consent from the current 18 years to 15 years, as reported by the state-owned New Vision newspaper. She expressed her concerns about the idea of offering contraceptives to 15-year-old girls, deeming it “scary” and mentioned that she personally used natural family planning methods.

In response to the debate, Primary Healthcare Minister Margaret Muhanga clarified that the proposal had not been officially approved by the government but had been suggested by a senior medical officer, Dr. Charles Olaro. She posed the question of whether it was better for a child to become pregnant and risk complications during childbirth, given the alarming rates of teenage pregnancies in the country.

Dr. Olaro, in a statement to the privately owned Daily Monitor newspaper, stressed the importance of providing access to sexual and reproductive health information as a fundamental right, emphasizing the need to eliminate stigma and discrimination associated with contraceptive use among young people.

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Despite these arguments, the deputy speaker vehemently opposed the proposal, suggesting it should not proceed further.

Uganda is known for its deeply religious society, and religious leaders have also voiced their opposition to the proposal, advocating for abstinence among teenagers as the primary solution.

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