Fertility classes for teens ‘will bear fruit’

Simon and Nicky Ashley (The Catholic Leader/Simon Ashley)

Teacher Simon Ashley believes fertility classes taught by Catholic educators would not only help improve Australia’s low birth rate, but also set teenagers up for healthier relationships in their adult life. Source: The Catholic Leader.

Mr Ashley, a Brisbane Catholic teacher who is developing a nuptial formation course for teachers, parents and parishes, made his comments following a call to introduce fertility classes in high schools to improve the country’s historically low birth rate.

Westmead Fertility Centre medical director Dr Howard Smith told The Daily Telegraph last month that Australia’s low birth rate could be solved by teaching teenagers “life planning”.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the country’s fertility rate is 1.79 children per woman. In the 1950s, the rate was above 3.4 children per woman. Australia needs to hit a birth rate of 2.1 babies per woman to replace herself and her partner.

Mr Ashley said if Catholic schools were to offer fertility classes to students, the benefits would go beyond improving the country’s birth rate.

“If we’re going to build the culture of life, we need to put the focus not just on sex but on life as well,” he said.

“Life is the pivotal point on discussions about euthanasia, abortion, reproduction, relationships, and if it’s not taught, the Church is going to continue to be irrelevant to a lot of people.”

Mr Ashley commended the program offered by Catholic schools in the Brisbane Catholic Education network but said it lacked a focus on fertility awareness.

“There are very good programs and initiatives coming out of the Brisbane Catholic Education Office, and I commend (BCE executive director) Pam Betts and Archbishop Mark Coleridge for introducing these to schools, but it won’t bear the fruit they want to bear if the fertility is left out of it,” he said.

Mr Ashley’s thoughts about offering fertility classes are supported by his wife Nicky Ashley, who has been a fertility practitioner for Catholic program, Creighton, for more than two years.

She said teenagers, especially girls entering puberty, would benefit from learning the fundamentals of fertility awareness-based methods like Creighton because it could pick up disorders like endometriosis, infertility and polycystic ovary syndrome.


Fertility classes the missing link in Catholic school sexuality programs (The Catholic Leader

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