Morning-after pills are to be offered free to girls in Rotherham – with pharmacists trained to spot victims of sexual exploitation.
Currently teenage girls and women over 16 can get the emergency contraception free of charge in the town.
But it is intended the scheme is extended to include girls aged 14 and 15 from January, in a bid to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions.
A report going to Coun Christine Beaumont, cabinet member for children and education services, on Monday said extending the availability would provide a ‘valuable service’ to vulnerable girls in the town.
It said: “Females under 16 are not able to obtain emergency hormonal contraception at pharmacies at present denying this vulnerable group of young people a valuable service choice based in the community.
“It is acknowledged that by extending this service to this age group the service providers need to be especially vigilant in relation to any safeguarding issues which may arise, especially concerns around the possibility of child sexual exploitation.”
Pharmacists will automatically refer all girls aged 14 and 15 provided with contraception to Rotherham youth support services.
August’s Jay report into child sexual exploitation in the borough revealed some of the 1,400 victims over the last 16 years had babies as a result of abuse.
Some abuse victims suffered the ‘further trauma’ of having their babies removed and contact with their children stopped – but there no figures how many girls had babies taken into care.