The morning-after pill to prevent pregnancy could be made free to girls as young as 12 next year.

Young people between the ages of 12 and 24 in the Taranaki region may receive the emergency contraceptive pill from early next year as part of the Taranaki youth health strategy. Pharmacies were being targeted to provide the emergency contraceptive pill for free.

The Taranaki District Health Board subcommittee accepted the strategy this week, and it will go to the board in February for final approval.

The subcommittee were concerned about Taranaki's high teen pregnancy and abortion rates, which are well above the national average.


National director of Family First, Bob McCoskrie has called the idea morally bankrupt and medically flawed.

"Sexually active teens need parental involvement - not emergency contraception - and the Health Board should not be handing out contraception like lollies.

"What we should be asking is, why are children as young as 12 sexually active, what messages are teens receiving about sexual involvement, and what role are the parents playing?"

Mr McCoskrie said research had shown that increased access to emergency contraception does not result in lower pregnancy rates among adolescents and young adults, but can be associated with an increased incidence of sexual activity and sexually transmitted infections.

Mr McCoskrie cited research by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which said the morning-after pill is not proven to reduce teen pregnancy rates.