Anarchy 103/From articles on the age of consent

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  Leaders of the Family Planning Association want to give contracep­tives to schoolgirls.

  But under the present law, doctors risk prosecution if they give girls under 16 the Pill or any other contraceptive.

  They could be charged with “aiding and abetting” an illegal act—sexual intercourse under the age of consent.

  Even if parents had given consent for contraceptives, the doctors would still risk prosecution. Technically, the parents, too, could be charged with aiding and abetting.

  Before the association’s national conference opened in London yester­day a family planning doctor said he had to carry out abortions on two 15-year-old girls in Liverpool.

  “Within three months they were both back again,” he said. It was mainly older women who wanted abortions in Liverpool, he said. Most young girls went to London “on the Harley Street circuit”.

  Lady Medawar, chairman of the association, also spoke about the problem before the conference began.

  “We are faced with a problem about which we cannot do anything at the present,” she said.

  “We are not actively going out to give contraceptive advice to the under-16’s.

  “These people are coming to us and asking for it. These are the people who most need help.”

  Mr. Caspar Brook, the association’s director, said: “Speaking for myself, I would welcome a test case in the courts on this.”

  The association had 1,200 doctors and it could not advise them to take the risk of prosecution. He would welcome any move which would clarify the law.

  Although it is not officially admitted, some doctors at association clinics do give contraceptives to under-16’s.

Daily Mail (26.6.69)

  Lowering the age of consent to legalise sexual intercourse with children under 16 is a measure which humanists may have to press for in a permissive society, Dr. David Kerr, Labour M.P. for Wandsworth, and chairman of the Parliamentary Humanist Group, said at the weekend.

  Sepaking as chairman of the 70th anniversary dinner of the Rationalist Press Association at the Commons, he reminded 100 guests that “the question of child sexual activity” had been raised in a press article. He said: “The question the humanist movement will have to face, as the world becomes more permissive, is whether there is anything inherently wrong or evil in having sexual relations with a child below the age of consent.”

  Afterwards Dr. Kerr said: “I was perfectly serious in raising this issue. What I had in mind—and of course I am a doctor—was that the pattern of sexual activity among young people is changing, perhaps more rapidly than we realise. I think that very few children of 14, 15 and 16 these days escape some form of sexual contact and often one finds that it is they who have taken the initiative.

  “Is it fair that a boy who has intercourse with a girl under 16 should be prosecuted as a criminal and a seducer? I realise there may be powerful arguments for the present law, but I do think it is an issue which should be looked at. You will probably get letters pillorying me for even asking the question but I don’t at all mind being a catalyst for discussion.”

Guardian (26.5.69)