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The Lesser of Two Evils
THE modern world presents us with many dilemmas that we would much rather not have to face. What to do about very young girls who, physically but not emotionally mature, have full sexual relations.
Should they or should they not be prescribed the Pill?
The best solution would be not to have sex so early in the first place. But this could be brought about only by parents exerting more control over their children than they do now, or exerting a different kind of influence and by a culture in which the emphasis on sex is more muted.
You have only to glance at magazines for 12-year-olds to see how sexualised they are.
And the fact is that many parents actively connive at their children’s premature sexual activities.
We have to make the best of the world we have and not in the world that we ought to have, or would have had if we had organised it differently.
Much as we would prefer a world in which sexual innocence was prolonged there is not much prospect of a return to it in the foreseeable future.
If a doctor is presented with a girl of 13 who tells him she is having sexual intercourse how can he not prescribe the Pill?
He has to do what he thinks is best for his patient and he cannot possibly think it best that she should become pregnant, much less have a baby.
That would certainly not be in her interest, nor in society’s (though the latter cannot be the doctor’s main consideration).
HE HAS little option but to prescribe, though this puts him in the awkward situation of conniving at what the law says is a sexual crime.
Should he tell the parents that he is prescribing the Pill for their daughter? After all it seems odd that parents should be held responsible for their daughter’s attendance at school but not be apprised of her sexual activities.
Having a baby is more serious than failing a GCSE (if it is still possible to do so these days).
The problem is that if young girls knew that their doctor would tell their parents about their sexual activities they would not confide in doctors, at least in those cases where the girls knew that the parents would not approve.
They would keep it to themselves.
It might be argued that if such girls could not obtain the Pill they would be more cautious about having sexual relations because of the fear of becoming pregnant and therefore that the rate of unwanted pregnancy would not rise.
It is impossible to be dogmatic but there are already 8,000 abortions performed annually in Britain on girls under the age of 16.
The girls are either ignorant of contraception, use it ineffectively or are insufficiently concerned whether they become pregnant or not.
But the figure does suggest that for a prohibition of prescription of the Pill to have the desired effect – a delay in the onset of sexual activity – abortion would have to be prohibited also.
And that, apart from its political impossibility, would also bring a lot of problems in its wake.
Personally and with regret I think it is better to prescribe the Pill than perform an abortion.
Originally published in the Daily Express.