“I just want to point out that the age of consent is actually 17.”
Giving free contraception to under-17s could cause “legal challenges”, Junior Health Minister Mary Butler has said.
Free contraceptives for women aged 17 to 25 will come into effect from next August as part of the 2022 Budget.
At a Department of Health budget briefing on Thursday, Butler said that placing the age limit below 17 could have caused legal issues due to the age of consent.
“I just want to point out that the age of consent is actually 17 and I think we were best placed to have the free contraception from the age of 17 to 25 because obviously, we could be faced with legal challenges,” she said.
“That is the rule of law here in this country, so I think the Minister was quite right with the age he started it off with.”
She added that she hasn’t spoken with the Attorney General but does believe “that, as the age of consent in Ireland is 17, we could end up with legalistic challenges if we were to ensure it was free at the point of access for people younger than 17.
“I completely endorse what the minister has done. I think it was the right decision.”