Monday, 1 November 2010

Contraceptive Pill Controversy

Girls aged 13 and above will be able to obtain a months supply of the morning-after pill without seeing a doctor or informing their parents, according to the BBC. The trial in the Isle of Wight aims to tackle high teenage pregnancy rates but the proposals are likely to result in the usual cries of concern from some. This concern - although cloaked in a range of arguments, is essentially about children having sex.

This sort of measure is inevitably admitting defeat - it accepts that a legal, moral and social framework that seeks to define 16 as the point when people can consent (and thus engage in) sexual behaviour has failed. The age of consent is thus apparently irrelevant. Yet it isn't. Although these measures are an attempt to recognise the sexual lives 'in reality', the legal framework continues to be enforced if someone aged say 17 was having sex with someone aged 14. We accept that a 14 year old can consent to sex, to the implications of sex, to managing their own birth control and presumably sex with someone else underage.

This story is about much more than popping a pill. It tells us about our contemporary sexual morality and how we define adult identity in contemporary society. It will be interesting to see how the experiment works out.

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