Some consent and confidentiality issues regarding the application of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act to girl-children

David McQuoid-Mason


The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act (Choice Act) allows a female of any age to consent to a termination of pregnancy, but other statutes such as the previous Child Care Act and the present Children’s Act provide for different ages of consent for medical and surgical procedures. As a result doctors are not always certain whether girl-children are legally capable of giving informed consent for certain associated procedures when undergoing a termination of pregnancy. In addition the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act (the Sexual Offences Act) imposes a duty to report sexual offences against children which may undermine the girl-patients right to confidentiality. This article attempts to clarify the legal position regarding these grey areas for practitioners faced with girl-child patients requesting terminations of pregnancy.

Author's affiliations

David McQuoid-Mason, University of KwaZulu-Natal

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Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act; Child Care Act; Children's Act; Sexual Offences Act; informed consent by children; confidentiality; sexual offences; medical emergencies

Cite this article

South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 2010;3(1):12.

Article History

Date submitted: 2010-02-19
Date published: 2010-06-29

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