Response to the article on teen pregnancies — John Teo

MAY 11 — I am responding to your article Teen mums blamed boredom during school holidays for unplanned pregnancies published on the May 10, 2019 in your esteemed paper.

Mother’s Day falls on the 12th of May, and the worse present any mother could receive is when they discover they are pregnant when they are underaged. 

It’s a tragedy for many, and their lives will be forever changed, more often than not, for the worse.

In 2017, a national survey showed that at least 7.3 per cent of students between the ages of 13 to 17 years old are sexually active.

According to the survey, 35 per cent  already had sex before the age 14 while 21 per cent were sexually active with multiple partners. Most, did not use contraceptives.

Although teenage births had reduced from an all-time high of 18,000 in 2012 to 7700 in 2018, the rising cases of unprotected sexual activity may mean a rising trend of teenage abortions or miscarriages.

The majority of teen pregnancies are unintended.

We know from global data that only 38 per cent of unintended pregnancies end up as births while the rest as abortions or miscarriages.

Unintended teenage pregnancies affect teens across the different race and religion. It strikes at the heart of the most socially conservative families to the more liberal ones. It occurs deep in the rural interiors to the more urban cities.

The solutions are simple:

  1. Acknowledge that sexual activities amongst teenagers is a natural biological occurrence, and empower our young with the critical knowledge to protect themselves
  2. Allow access to contraceptives to teens

 For decades, we do not have the conviction or the political will to do what is so obviously required.

Let’s end all teen pregnancies this Mother’s Day, and present the best gift to every mothers in Malaysia!

*This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

** Dr John Teo is a Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

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