Damien Hirst's Verity statue sparks teen pregnancy rebuttal
Claims that Devon's new "angel" of the North Devon coast will be a beacon for teenage pregnancy have been refuted by a town mayor.
Artist Damien Hirst's Verity – a 65ft bronze statue representing truth and justice – was unveiled at Ilfracombe harbour last month.
Critics of the giant statue of a naked pregnant woman brandishing a sword have suggested that the town has one of the highest pregnancy rates for teenagers in the country.
Mayor Lynda Courtnadge was so angered by the attacks that she dug out official figures to disprove the "offensive" comments.
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The most recent data provided by NHS Devon, for 2008 to 2010, shows an under-18 conception rate of 2.4% amongst girls aged 15 to 17, she said.
This was lower than the Devon rate at 3.1% and both the South West and England rates, at 3.2% and 3.8% respectively.
She added: "I have recently heard several people using a misguided argument, which has often been quoted by some who are anti-Verity.
"This is the claim that Ilfracombe has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the country.
"Young people in our town make a very important contribution to our community, and to suggest that they are more promiscuous than any other community, and to use this in public debate, is inaccurate and offensive."
The 25-ton bronze artwork has divided residents since it arrived on a 20-year long loan from the artist, who has a restaurant in the town.
On one side of the body, the woman's skin is peeled back, revealing her skull, muscles and foetus – bringing accusations that the work is "grotesque", "obscene and disgusting".