FPA has welcomed the further drop in teenage pregnancy rates in Scotland but called for investment in sexual and reproductive health services and warned that there is more work to be done to tackle regional variations in the rate.
Figures released by ISD Scotland show that the conception rate among under 20s in 2015 was 32.4 per 1,000 women. In under 18s it was 20.1 and in under 16s it was 3.0.
There is a wide regional variation in the rates, with ISD Scotland highlighting that the pregnancy rate among women under 20 living in the most deprived areas is five times higher that the rate among those in least deprived areas.
Natika H Halil, Chief Executive of FPA said:
"Today's figures show that more work needs to be done to tackle the link between deprivation and teenage pregnancy including addressing underlying inequalities, such as lack of access to education and employment opportunities, so that all young people can make the life choices that are right for them. This will take time and we recognise that the Pregnancy and Parenthood in Young People Strategy launched in 2016 aims to address these issues.
"Accessible and confidential contraception and sexual health services, along with high-quality relationships and sex education, and training and support for health professionals, also play a vital role in making sure young people can look after their sexual health and choose when and if to become parents.
"Limited access to abortion services, can further restrict young people’s choices as they may not have the means to travel to access the services they need. We urge Scottish government to invest in and protect sexual and reproductive health services to help achieve a further drop in rates and genuine choice for young people.
"Not all teenage pregnancies are unplanned or unwanted – pregnancy and parenthood can be a positive life choice for young people. But young parents and their children are unfortunately more likely to experience a range of negative long-term educational, health and social outcomes. Young people should never face stigma for becoming parents but should be supported, for example by providing education opportunities that can fit in with childcare, help with childcare costs and support with housing.”