Prymface supports young mothers. Prymface advocates for their right to be heard and respected. Prymface is against the assumption that being a 'teenage mum' ruins your life, and that such scare tactics are a good way to reduce teenage pregnancies*. You may be assuming therefore that Prymface would be reasonably happy that charity Life have been invited to sit on a government advisory forum for sexual health. However, you would be very very wrong!

In my life I have had two encounters with Life. Once when I was 16 I went to see them with my boyfriend. I weed in a pot, it came back positive, they quickly checked that I wasn't considering abortion and then sent me away with a selection of (what I now know as) pro-life leaflets with pictures of what my baby looked like. The second time I saw them I was 18. I went on my own, the test came back negative and so they let me go. I don't remember them saying anything. These two times in my life were probably when I was at my most vulnerable ever.

Now I'm not saying that anyone could have helped me then, or that even if they tried I would have let them, but I do know that a charity with its OWN agenda was of no use to me at all. It was simply further confirmation of the how I saw the world at that time. Looking back I can see that what I needed, on both visits, was to know that I had choices, that I could make myself, that I should be respected, that I had control over my own body and mind, and that I was important. This is not because I made the wrong choice, but because it should have been MY choice, and I would have been in a much better place for knowing that. All I'm saying is that it was a missed opportunity for a organisation that, through offering free pregnancy tests, must find themselves in contact with a lot of girls who, at that point, are at their most vulnerable.

The decision to include Life, for the sake of balance, has been supported by some pretty influential people. Frank Field has defended the decision based on the fact that abortion providers also have a 'vested interest' which should be counter-balanced. Personally, I would suggest that maybe 'balance' could be found in other service providers, such as midwives, or health visitors, or groups that support young mothers (or heaven forbid, young parents themselves!), rather than an anti-choice lobby group. There are no other lobby groups invited to the forum. A charity that is actively AGAINST empowering and supporting young people to make their own choices does not offer 'balance' but is a threat to anyone who considers that they have their own mind, or would like their daughters to be reminded of this should they ever forget.  Whatever your views are, the provision of accurate information and supportive and comprehensive services should be available to meet your needs. Such services cannot be improved by including groups on advisory panels who want to take that away....

* if we stopped producing posters/campaigns depicting how terrible being a teenage mum was then maybe Life wouldn't be seen as offering 'balance'....Just a thought!