CRC General Comment No. 20: Implementation of the Rights of the Child During Adolescence
This is one of the first times that a treaty body general comment reconciles adolescents’ evolving capacities with the ability to consent to SRH services, explicitly affirms adolescents’ autonomy and decision-making in the context of their SRHR, and addresses the issue of sexual consent for adolescents. In particular, the General Comment:
Recognizes that States should remove parental authorization requirements for SRH info and services;
Urges States to consider introducing a presumption of capacity for adolescents seeking preventative and time-sensitive SRH commodities and services;
Urges States to decriminalize abortion to ensure that girls have access to safe abortion and post-abortion services, review legislation with a view to guaranteeing the best interests of pregnant adolescents, and ensure that pregnant adolescents’ views are always heard and respected in abortion-related decisions;
Recognizes that the voluntary and informed consent of the adolescent should be obtained whether or not the consent of a parent or guardian is required for any medical treatment or procedure;
Calls on States to balance protection and evolving capacities when defining the legal age for sexual consent and to avoid criminalizing adolescents of similar ages for factually consensual and non-exploitative sexual activity, and;
Calls for age-appropriate, comprehensive, and inclusive sexual and reproductive health education, based on scientific evidence and human rights standards and developed with adolescents to be part of the mandatory school curriculum and reach adolescents who are not enrolled in school.