Adolescent rights

World Health Organization resources

Safe Abortion: Technical and policy guidance for safe abortion, 2nd edition (2012)
PARENTAL CONSENT; EVOLVING CAPACITY/MATURITY: 'Adolescents may be deterred from going to needed health services if they think they will be required to get permission from their parents or guardians, which increases the likelihood of them going to clandestine abortion providers. Health-care providers should therefore be trained to inform, counsel and treat adolescents according to their evolving capacities to understand the treatment and care options being offered, and not according to an arbitrary age cut-off. Health-care workers should support minors 
to identify what is in their best interests, including consulting parents or other trusted adults about their pregnancy, without bias, discrimination or coercion.' ( Chapter 3, Planning and Managing Safe Abortion Care, page 68)
EVOLVING CAPACITY: 'To protect the best interests and welfare of minors, and taking into consideration their evolving capacities, policies and practices should encourage, but not require, parents' engagement through support, information and education (Chapter 4, Legal and Policy Considerations, page 95 ).
ACCESS TO ABORTION; PRIVACY 'Abortion laws and services should protect the health and human rights of all women, including adolescents. They should not create situations that lead women and adolescents to seek unsafe abortion.' (Chapter 3, p. 64)….Access to safe abortion depends not only on the availability of services, but also on the manner in which they are delivered and the treatment of women within the clinical context. Services should be delivered in a way that respects a woman's dignity, guarantees her right to privacy and is sensitive to her needs and perspectives. Attention should be given to the special needs of the poor, adolescents, and other vulnerable and marginalized women. (Chapter 3, p. 64)
CONFIDENTIALITY; PRIVACY; AUTONOMOUS DECISION-MAKING: 'Within the framework of national abortion laws, norms and standards should include protections for informed and voluntary decision-making, autonomy in decision-making, non-discrimination, and confidentiality and privacy for all women, including adolescents.' (Chapter 3, p. 67).
CONFIDENTIALITY: 'The fear that confidentiality will not be maintained deters many women – particularly adolescents and unmarried women – from seeking safe, legal abortion services, and may drive them to clandestine, unsafe abortion providers, or to self-induce abortion. Confidentiality is a key principle of medical ethics and an aspect of the right to privacy and must be guaranteed.' (Chapter 3, p. 68)
USER FEES: 'WHO recommends that payments from individuals for health services be collected as a type of prepayment, rather than at the time of service delivery. However, in many settings, user fees are customarily charged and can be an important barrier to services for poor women and adolescents.'(Chapter 3, p. 80). Where user fees are charged for abortion, such fees should be matched to women's ability to pay, and procedures should be developed for exempting the poor and adolescents from paying for services. As far as possible, abortion services should be mandated for coverage under insurance plans. Abortion should never be denied
or delayed because of a woman's inability to pay.' (Chapter 3, p. 80).
ACCESS TO ABORTION: An enabling regulatory and policy environment is needed to ensure that every woman who is legally eligible has ready access to good-quality abortion services. Policies should be geared to respecting, protecting and fulfilling the human rights of women, to achieving positive health outcomes for women, to providing good-quality contraceptive and family planning information and services, and to meeting the particular needs of poor women, adolescents, rape survivors and women living with HIV.
UNSAFE ABORTION: It recognizes that human rights bodies require states to take action to prevent unsafe abortion, including by amending restrictive laws that threaten women's, including adolescents' lives and to provide legal abortion in cases where the continued pregnancy endangers the health of women, including adolescents (page 88)
UNSAFE ABORTION: WHO recommends reducing maternal morbidity and mortality in adolescents, particularly caused by early pregnancy and unsafe abortion practices, and develop and implement programmes that provide access to sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning, contraception and safe abortion services where abortion is not against the law. Make sure that all women, including adolescents have access to information about legal abortion services.
PARENTAL CONSENT: WHO recommends eliminating regulatory and policy barriers, including third-party authorization requirements that interfere with women's and adolescents' right to make decisions about reproduction and to exercise control over their bodies (p. 89). It also recognizes that excluding coverage for abortion services under health insurance, or failing to eliminate or reduce service fees for poor women and adolescents, is a barrier to safe abortion (p. 94).
WHO and UNFPA, Pregnant Adolescents: Delivering on Promises of Hope, 2006.
Sets forth stats on pregnant adolescents and calls for prioritization of actions regarding prevention of adolescent pregnancy and accesses to services for pregnant adolescents.
World Health Organization, Considerations for Formulating Reproductive Health Laws, (2nd edition, 2000)
The purpose of this Discussion Paper is to consider how laws can be developed in order to improve protection of reproductive and sexual health, and how they can be applied to facilitate rather than obstruct the availability of reproductive and sexual health services. It addresses legal principles governing relations between providers of health services in general and of reproductive and sexual health services in particular, and intended recipients of those services.
World Health Organization (2008), Why is giving special attention to adolescents important for achieving Millennium Development Goal 5?