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Calls for age of consent to be lowered to 16

Calls for age of consent to be lowered to 16
Photo: Pexels Images/Loc Dang

There are calls for the age of consent to be lowered to 16.

It's after the Health Minister admitted there is still a question around whether free contraception can be given to 16 year olds despite it being promised in the Budget earlier this week.

The current age of consent is 17.

Free contraception will be extended to women aged between 17 to 30 from September 2023.

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Dr Catherine O'Sullivan from the UCC School of Law says it should be lowered, as it's currently a legally tricky position for doctors.

"It's worth noting that we are placing doctors in an invidious position too because if the age of consent is 17 and they are prescribing contraception for sexual purposes at 16, are they potentially libel for aiding and abetting ย of a criminal offence."

According to Dr. O'Sullivan, around a quarter of 16 year olds in Ireland could be sexually active.

She says the age of consent should be lowered to 16.

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"We are in this weird position that we accept that young people are potentially engaging in various forms of sexual activityย that are illegal but we are unwilling to put in place educational initiativesย  to help them negotiate those new areas of sexual experience."

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