Adolescents and Consent to Treatment
International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 89, pp. 179-184, 2005
7 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2005 Last revised: 29 Apr 2009
Adolescents, defined by WHO as 10 to 19 years old, can give independent consent for reproductive health services if their capacities for understanding have sufficiently evolved. The international Convention on the Rights of the Child, almost universally ratified, limits parental powers, and duties, by adolescents' evolving capacities for self-determination. Legal systems may recognize mature minors as enjoying adult rights of medical consent, even when consent to sexual relations does not absolve partners of criminal liability; their consent does not make the adolescents offenders. There is usually no chronological age of consent for medical care, but a condition of consent, meaning capacity for understanding. Like adults, mature minors enjoy confidentiality and the right to treatment according to their wishes rather than their best interests. Minors incapable of self-determination may grant or deny assent to treatment for which guardians provide consent. Emancipated minors' self-determination may also be recognized, for instance on marriage or default of adults' guardianship.
Keywords: Adolescence, Adolescents' consent, Consent from adolescents, Adolescents' evolving capacities, Mature minors, Emancipated minors, Assent and consent, Age of consent, Adolescents' confidentiality.
JEL Classification: I18, K19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation