Fay Weldon: Why we should sterilise teenage girls ... temporarily at least

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last week, an intriguing proposition was mooted by Government minister Dawn Primarolo.

Teenage girls, she said, could be steered towards what is described as "long-term contraception".

This is now possible thanks to the development of contraceptive jabs and implants which can last up to five years.

In other words, there is a way of effectively sterilising girls for a lengthy period of time.

At what age? Well, doesn't 12 until 17 sound rather sensible?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchSexualityTeens / Youth* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

Posted February 24, 2008 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. azusa wrote:

What if this had been done to Dawn Primadonna’s mother?. (edited)

February 24, 4:44 pm | [comment link]
2. azusa wrote:

“Edited”?! By Rosemary Woods?
OK, Elves, you are teaching me a Lenten discipline. I’ll go quietly ...

February 24, 5:16 pm | [comment link]
3. Dee in Iowa wrote:

With tongue in cheek - so I don’t get edited…....what a wonderful idea for the welfare of the boys on the block…..

February 24, 5:33 pm | [comment link]
4. Branford wrote:

On a serious note, what of the unknown long-term damage to young, growing reproductive systems that are put on long-term hormonal programs? No thanks. (And, of course, this idea does nothing to eliminate or stop STDs)

February 24, 5:44 pm | [comment link]
5. William P. Sulik wrote:

What happened to saltpeter?

/obviously tongue-in-cheek, but why go after the girls and not the guys?

February 24, 5:52 pm | [comment link]
6. CofS wrote:

You know what’s even more horrifying than the idea?  The massive number of favorable comments on the paper’s site!  That one atheistic “brave new world” type would write this is not shocking, but that so many would seem to feel this is Good!!  And even the ones that are against it are so for secondary and tertiary reasons, no morality consideration at all, much less religous reasons.

February 24, 6:20 pm | [comment link]
7. Bill C wrote:

A ‘wilting’ vaccination, effective for about for boys in their teens would be far more effective. It would ensure that girls matured at a healthy rate.

February 24, 7:32 pm | [comment link]
8. Nikolaus wrote:

As much as I abhor abortion and teenage pregnancy, this is profoundly frightening.  I’m with CofS, all the favorable comments just show how deep the sickness is.  I suppose to these people it is easier and better to sterilize them than actually have to raise them to make good decisions on their own..

February 24, 8:22 pm | [comment link]
9. robroy wrote:

How about chastity belts?

February 24, 9:01 pm | [comment link]
10. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

Ah yes, eugenics for the untermenschen or perhaps unterwenchen.  New guises for ancient evils - perhaps Ms Primarolo will get the boot for this one.

February 24, 10:22 pm | [comment link]
11. DonGander wrote:

Pregnancy is not the problem - fornication is.

That’s what I read in my Bible.


February 25, 1:00 am | [comment link]
12. Wilfred wrote:

Anyone who proposes this, it would be better if a large mill-stone were tied round his neck, and he were cast into the sea.

Maybe we need to re-think the entire concept of state-run education, and consider eliminating it.

February 25, 1:14 am | [comment link]
13. Larry Morse wrote:

One fundamental problem is that such a practice would violate unwritten and unalterable laws deep in human nature. For a girl or a boy to know t hat he/she is sterile will, after the first binge of excess, attack the center of human identity. Psychologically, there is an enormous difference between a morning-after pill and and long term sterilty. Sterility attacks the soul.

  Second, this practice creates a mind set - as already observed, the “Brave New World” mind set in which conception itself become infamous,  indecent. It is a very short step from this mind-set to the artificial womb and cloning of Alphas and Betas. Do you think science is not up to the technological development? If you think so, you haven’t been reading the newspapers.

February 25, 1:56 am | [comment link]
14. libraryjim wrote:

One word comes to mind:



February 25, 12:47 pm | [comment link]
15. Vincent Lerins wrote:


You are absolutely correct! This is eugenics. I would add that an undercurrent of eugenics has permeated the medical field. This is why government run universal health care is a very bad idea.  We don’t have angels running the system. Ideas like sterilization could become mandatory. And where children are concerned, if the parents don’t comply, they could have their children taken away. 


February 25, 12:50 pm | [comment link]
16. Dale Rye wrote:

Let me start by saying I think it is a very bad idea for the government to be promoting this. However, the notion that parents might want their daughters on some form of birth control, even if they trust their chastity completely, is not completely crazy. There is a reason why some nuns in world regions with very high sexual assault rates due to civil unrest are on the Pill. Getting raped is consistent with a woman’s virginity (see the lengthy discussion of this in Augustine’s City of God), but that will not save her from getting pregnant.

I think this ties in to a later article posted on the blog. A very high proportion of women in this age range (perhaps as high as 25%) report that they have had sexual intercourse to which they did not voluntarily consent. The fact than a majority of these women will not state that they have been raped is no more significant than the fact that almost all people arrested for driving under the influence deny they are drunk. DUI and sexual assault have legal definitions that may not correspond to the notions in popular culture. Drunk drivers still kill people and date-raped women still get pregnant.

Actually, the legally-defined sexual assault rate is much higher. In Texas, like most other states other than Mississippi, both males and females under 17 are presumed incompetent to consent to sexual intercourse, so the question of whether they voluntarily agreed (whether unenthusiastically or otherwise) is simply immaterial. Since the median age in America at sexual initiation is about 16.8 (with 25% sexually active by 14.8), that means that a majority of both teenage boys and teenage girls have been sexually assaulted. In Texas and many other states there is a legal defense available if the couple are close in age, but that doesn’t affect the legal principle that minors cannot consent to voluntary sex. In practice, most very young women who are sexually active had significantly older and more experienced first partners; it is foolish to suggest that their consent was really knowing and voluntary. Young people are also more likely than older ones to engage in practices that heighten their risk of pregnancy or disease.

February 25, 2:34 pm | [comment link]
17. phil swain wrote:

I think it’s important to point out that a nun who takes the pill in order to avoid a possible rape in the example given in #16 is not engaging in an immoral act.  The principle of double effect is applicable.  However, a 14 year old girl who takes the pill in order to avoid a pregnancy from a sexual act to which she consents(morally) is guilty of an immoral act.  The fact that the law prohibits sex with a minor does not extinguish the moral culpability of a 14 year old.  I don’t see how it could be considered good parenting to ask your child to do an immoral act.

February 25, 7:03 pm | [comment link]
18. chips wrote:

I actually thought that the average (which is mean) age was nearer 15.5 than 16.5.  Most teenagers to young adults will have had a sexual experience prior to age 20 (and that includes the white middle class)- average age of marriage is about 25.  Sterialization sounds harsh - I think long term birth control measures wouild be more appropriate.  Breaking the cycle of kids having kids is an important state interest.  This suggestion seems a little over the top if mandatory (and their may be real medical risks involved as one commenter noted) - but there does seem to be a real disconect between the reality of the situation and the comments posted on this site - I consider myself a right wing ideologue on most issues - but one needs to be careful to not be so blinded by ones own beliefs that they are incapable of adding to a discussion about a real problem.  The state cannot impose Victorian era morality regarding pre- marital sex by fiat.

February 25, 8:19 pm | [comment link]
19. CofS wrote:

Phil Swain,

I can appreciate that you (and others)  might feel with all good intentions that a nun that took the pill to avoid pregnancy in the event of a rape would not be committing an immoral act, but I would be interested to hear what Rome would have to say.  I’m not absolutely certain, but I would doubt that that would ever be the Church’s counsel.

February 25, 8:30 pm | [comment link]
20. Cennydd wrote:

Thank God my two granddaughters have the common sense to never get in a compromising situation!  They’ve had it drilled into them that there are certain things that Christian young ladies “just don’t do, and that’s that!”  Besides, their Dad is old-school Mexican, and you don’t fool around with his daughters, if you value your hide!

February 26, 12:01 pm | [comment link]
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