Apr 16 2008
Queensland Health has rejected accusations that GPs are giving contraceptive implants to young girls without parental consent.
The State Opposition's Child Safety spokeswoman Jan Stuckey says sexually active girls as young as 12 have received implants from public doctors, without permission from a parent or guardian.
Ms Stuckey says she is only aware of such cases in Aboriginal communities but Queensland's Acting Chief Health Officer Dr. Linda Selvey says the procedure is always done with parental consent.
Ms Stuckey says information from four different sources has led her to believe that as many as five adolescent girls had received the implant Implanon over the past two years, in Woorabinda, central Queensland and one of the girl had three sexually transmitted infections.
The contraceptive implant is a small plastic rod which is inserted under the upper-arm skin and contains a hormone which stops ovulation; it is visible to potential sexual partners.
The hormone gives protection for at least three years, and has a low failure rate when compared with other contraceptives because users do not have to remember to take a pill or have condoms at the ready.
Mrs Stuckey a former nurse is concerned that the implants increase the likelihood of the girls engaging in under-age, unsafe sex, and suggest they imply tacit approval for under-age sex.
Dr. Selvey says in "extreme cases" education was of little help in minimising possible harm, particularly for those not able to make informed decisions about sex and contraception and health professionals have to weigh up the health risk of using such a device versus not using the device, but such decisions would always involve parents.
The Australian Medical Association of Queensland says while doctors discourage patients from having sex too early they were often forced to confront the reality of teenage pregnancies.
Queensland Health says the implants are given as a last resort and in consultation with the Child Safety Department.
Family Planning Queensland says doctors have to seriously consider the best needs of the child and ensure the young person is not at risk of being harmed in any way and understands the advantages and disadvantages of contraception.