Press Statement by WRF
Following the introduction of emergency contraception, our agenda as Women's Rights Foundation is to advocate for better sexual and reproductive health for women and girls of all ages. Within this remit, one cannot emphasise enough the importance of changing stigmatising attitudes towards female sexuality and reproduction. This includes more comprehensive sexuality and relationship educational programmes in schools amongst adolescents of all genders and better understanding of contraceptive use and its access.
We have always insisted that more awareness needs to be raised on sexual and reproductive health, particularly amongst young people. Seeing, however that pro-life organisations are being invited in schools to teach our adolescents about abortion and reproduction, has left us rather preoccupied. This more so, since Life Network are still insisting that emergency contraception is equivalent to an abortion despite consensus by both national and international scientific organisations that emergency contraception neither terminates an established pregnancy nor inhibits implantation of a fertilised egg. If the morning after pill debate made anything clear, it is that these pro-life organisations are ready to rely on obsolete evidence from suspect sources in an attempt to obfuscate confuse and misinform. It is very likely that such discourse will be included in any 'educational talk' that Life Network addresses.
We believe that abortion is a complex moral issue and cannot be addressed from a black or white perspective, as can happen in a pro-live Vs pro-choice framework. Students should be presented with objective medical facts, diverse legal approaches and different philosophical arguments that are not limited to one dogma. This is an opportunity for educators to engage them in critical thinking and discussion which are crucial for moral decision making.
More importantly, the Ministry should ensure that schools have clear guidelines, that such sessions are delivered by educational professionals, that adequate resources are provided and that a system of monitoring and evaluation is in place to ensure that learning objectives are being reached across all schools.
We would like to emphasise that this issue is not limited to one particular school. The petition reported in the media in fact started last week following reports from at least one other school where Life Network gave a presentation.
We conclude by extending an invitation to the Ministry of Education for mutual dialogue and collaboration on issues related to sexual and reproductive health from a gender sensitive perspective.