The Irish government is to consider selling condoms to 16-year-olds despite the fact that they are below the age of consent.
A controversial new law is currently under consideration by the government to allow kids as young as 16 to buy contraceptives even though legally they have to be 17 before they can have sex.
A major new report from the Law Reform Commission recommends that 16 and 17-year-olds should be able to consent to and refuse medical treatment including over-the-counter medicines, surgery and mental health services.
It has also called for 16-year-olds to be able to access treatment, including contraception, without their parents’ knowledge.
The commission also recommends that only in ‘exceptional circumstances’ should those aged under 16 years be able to make such decisions without parental knowledge.
In those instances, it suggests that health care professionals must first assess the patient’s level of maturity and encourage them to involve their parents or guardians in making the decision.
The detailed report, which acknowledges the ‘complex interaction’ between the rights, responsibilities and roles of parents and young people, makes 20 recommendations.
The concept of 16 years buying condoms is sure to be the most controversial considering the age of consent in Ireland is still 17 years.
Opposition spokesman on children Charlie McConalogue has identified the issue with 16-year-olds accessing contraception.
The Fianna Fail deputy welcomed the report but said: “The object of government policy has to be to try and encourage young people not to engage in sexual activity until they’re ready for it and not before the legal age of consent.
“This document will be a useful contribution to what is a sensitive debate and I welcome the fact that the Law Reform Commission is looking at this issue.”
The report from the Law Reform Commission also calls for those aged 16 and 17 to be presumed to have the capacity to make an advance care directive.