The age of consent in context

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Feminists were appropriately pushing for a reduction in the age of consent for abortion. I suggested that if the right to choose is constitutionally based on procreative freedom, then it might follow as a matter of constitution law that a female old enough to have the freedom to choose abortion, should be deemed old enough to decide whether to have sex. [...]

States in which 18 is the age of consent accord prosecutor's enormous discretion to selectively prosecute young men based on race and economic status. A high proportion of prosecutions occur when the young man is a person of color, poor, or from an underprivileged family, and when the female is from a white, privileged family. It is always dangerous to the rule of law when prosecutors have the power to selectively prosecute, as criminal, acts that are widely engaged in (that is an argument widely made in the context of marijuana). A high percentage of teenagers engage in sex below the formal age of consent in their states. [...]

But as a matter of constitutional law, it would be difficult to justify a statute that gave a 17-year-old the right to choose to have sex, but denied her the right to have sex with a 30- or 40-year-old. The same would be true of a 16-year-old who had the right to choose abortion, but not the right to choose with whom to have sex.

source: Article 'The Age of Consent in Context' by Alan Dershowitz (the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard Law School);;; 8 August 2019