Respecting Adolescents' Confidentiality and Reproductive and Sexual Choices

International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 98, pp. 182-187, 2007

U Toronto, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-08

7 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2007 Last revised: 29 Apr 2009

See all articles by Rebecca J. Cook

Rebecca J. Cook

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Joanna N. Erdman

Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law

Bernard Dickens

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Abstract

Adolescents, defined as between 10 and 19 years old, present a growing challenge to reproductive health. Adolescent sexual intercourse contributes to worldwide burdens of unplanned pregnancy, abortion, spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, and maternal mortality and morbidity. A barrier to contraceptive care and termination of adolescent pregnancy is the belief that in law minors intellectually mature enough to give consent also require consent of, or at least prior information to, their parental guardians. Adolescents may avoid parental disclosure by forgoing desirable reproductive health care. Recent judicial decisions, however, give effect to internationally established human rights to confidentiality, for instance under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which apply without a minimum age. These judgments contribute to modern legal recognition that sufficiently mature adolescents can decide not only to request care for contraception, abortion and STIs, but also whether and when their parents should be informed.

Keywords: Adolescent confidentiality, Confidentiality of adolescents, Human right to confidentiality, Convention on the Rights of the Child, Reproductive health confidentiality, Mature minors, Parental rights.

JEL Classification: K10, J13, I18, I10

Suggested Citation

Cook, Rebecca J. and Erdman, Joanna N. and Dickens, Bernard, Respecting Adolescents' Confidentiality and Reproductive and Sexual Choices. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 98, pp. 182-187, 2007; U Toronto, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-08. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1010442

Rebecca J. Cook

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 Queen's Park Cr.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-4446 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

Joanna N. Erdman

Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law ( email )

6061 University Avenue
6061 University Ave
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4H9
Canada

Bernard Dickens (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-4849 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

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