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Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada. Volume 26 (2004), p. 991-999.


adolescent; capacity to consent; child abuse; confidentiality; consent to treatment; ethical and legal obligations; parental involvement; reproductive and sexual health care; treating a minor


The ethical and legal obligations with respect to treating a minor can be confusing, particularly in the areas of consent to treatment, confidentiality, and parental involvement. The clinician must be aware of the appropriate course of practice when the patient is an adolescent seeking care for contraception, pregnancy, or sexually transmitted infections. This article examines a number of ethical and legal issues that arise when providing reproductive and sexual health care to an adolescent and offers recommendations for the physician’s most appropriate courses of action regarding adolescent patients and the age of consent to sexual activity, reporting of child abuse, provision of reproductive and sexual health care to a minor, assessing an adolescent’s capacity to consent to treatment, the physician’s duty of confidentiality, and the exceptions to the rule of confidentiality.


Permission to post this article in this repository has been obtained from the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.

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