Daily Mail
By Fay Weldon

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?

This would have the advantage of bringing down the teenage pregnancy rate, so high in this country it makes us a disgrace among the nations – the worst offenders in Europe.

Now, many people will see this modest proposal as little short of horrific – nothing less than state interference in our reproductive lives.

But think about it: it might not be such a bad idea.

We are moving into a science fiction age in which life itself can be created in a test tube, and it seems that, before long, perfect babies could be bred at will, largely free of hereditary disease and illness.

So, in my view, there is little point any more in feeling shock-horror at the idea of mass sterilisation.

Indeed, for many, it seems, a child has actually become a kind of perverse badge of honour.

Suddenly, they can give birth to someone who will offer unconditional love in a bleak, busy, money-grubbing world.

The council will offer a free home away from nagging parents. They will have independence, sexual freedom and no more humiliating exams to try to pass – because, more than likely, their education will fall by the wayside.

Once, they would have confidently said of the father: “I love him. And I want a bit of me, a bit of him, to go on for all eternity.”

It’s not like that any more. Love is seen as little more than a neurotic dependency to the young.

The fear of pregnancy used to stop girls having sex. To be pregnant and unmarried was a major life disaster (as it is still in some of our ethnic communities.)

But for all that, unwelcome babies went on being born – the human impulse to procreate being what it is.

Now we know everything there is to know about preventing babies…

In spite of all the efforts of the Government’s Teenage Pregnancy Unit, and millions of pounds spent on initiatives to persuade girls that having babies young is a bad, bad thing, the rates stay sky-high.

A certain proportion of teenagers like to defy fate – and the more you warn them not to smoke, drink, have sex, stay up late, join gangs, the more they will.

Defying authority, not doing what you’re told, is, for many, part of growing up – the search for your own identity, a necessary preparation for leaving the nest. Persuasion doesn’t work. The instinct to rebel goes too deep.

Sex education hasn’t helped, and may indeed have harmed.

Freud’s view of the psychosexual development of the child has been ignored. His opinion was that you interfere with the “latency” phase of ages nine to 12 at your peril, for fear of stopping further development.

In Freud’s theory, the latency phase is when a child unconsciously denies the facts of life until he or she is ready to face them. If unpalatable facts are forced down the child’s throat it’s traumatising, and progression to sexual maturity is halted.

In other words, if you start teaching the birds and the bees too early, all that the nine, ten or 11-year-olds will do is want to experiment with what they have been taught before they have the emotional capability to deal with the fallout.

The Government says it has tried everything to stop pregnancy rates rising – from school matrons to a blizzard of sex education, to free condoms and morning-after pills.

But it’s not working. That’s why I think sterilising girls for a few years isn’t such a bad idea after all – and, when you think about it, it’s a tempting solution for the State, too.

…there’s no end to the social improvements you could make.

There is, I admit, a dreadful gender unfairness in the suggestion that teenage girls should be sterilised. Shouldn’t boys under 17 have their tubes tied, too? It takes two to make a baby.

Comments to article

If anything contravenes a person’s human rights it would be this. It is a shocking proposal and a disgrace.

– Darren, England


Should be compulsory, for all the reasons given.
To the human rights brigade I would say… What about the rights of the rest of us not to have to pick up so many pieces?

– D. L Stephens, York England


Well yes… I agree 100%… if this idea could work, then great.

– Ruth, Glasgow, Scotland


Brilliant! Someone has FINALLY said what needs to be said.

I am a 25 year old woman and have been saying exactly this for the past six or seven years

– Hannah King, Wolverhampton, UK


It wouldn’t exactly hurt the causes of managing our overpopulation and climate change…

– Richard Jackson, Md, UK


…their hormonal development should not be interfered with, especially when we know so little about the brain. Not to mention the gross invasion of privacy. No perceived result is worth forced sterilization of any duration.

– Catherine, UK


Enforced contraception for 12- 17 year old boys and girls yes. Just girls no.

– Dawn, Merseyside UK


I agree, except I would extend the age of sterilisation from 12 to 20+ years.

– Penny, London

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