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Whether or not sex is truly consensual for young teenagers, in particular, is a question that worries experts."Girls can't be seen to take the lead in sexual intimacy.If parents are not involved in discussing sexual choices with their children, then it is peer groups, not schools' programmes and legislation, that inform young people's choices."The age of consent, which is 17 for girls and 15 for boys, doesn't matter to young people," says Dr Sheila Jones of the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA), where the youngest patients being prescribed the morning-after pill and contraception are aged 13.
When 18 and 19-year-olds are added to the group, the figure rises to 30 per cent.The same ethical and legal criteria are used when prescribing the morning-after pill to underage teenage girls, says Dr Fiona Graham, GP and academic at UCD. If anything, the morning-after pill is easier to prescribe to an under-16-year-old without parental consent because it's a once-off prescription, rather than a long-term prospect.It's also an opportunity to provide health screening and health awareness for the patient, which is why I would not like to see the morning-after pill being made available over-the-counter.They believe they must please boys rather than their own sexual desires. Children having babies without fully understanding how those babies came to be made is a small, but worrying, phenomenon.In the past 10 years in the Republic, babies were born to one 12-year-old, seven 13-year-olds, 97 14-year-olds and 550 15-year-olds, while an estimated 500 girls in the 12 to 15-year-old age group had abortions.