Accessing reproductive or sexual health services

In its General Comment No. 20, the CRC Committee states that all adolescents “should have access to free, confidential, adolescent-responsive and non-discriminatory sexual and reproductive health services, information and education”.

For adolescents, in particular girls, access to reproductive or sexual health services is crucial for their well-being and general health. Most EU Member States regulate children’s access to sexual and reproductive health services, including contraceptive methods, in the same way as other health services. Thus, the same limitations that children would face when accessing general health services apply for accessing reproductive or sexual health services.


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Key aspects

  • In Greece, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia, children cannot access sexual or reproductive health services without parental consent. In other Member States, this depends on the child’s maturity and an assessment by the health service providers.
  • In Bulgaria, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom, the minimum age to independently access these services is 16 years. In Denmark and Slovenia, it is 15 years. In Slovenia and the United Kingdom, the minimum age can be lowered, depending on maturity.
  • In several Member States, access depends on the maturity of the child. For example, in the United Kingdom, although general rules apply, contraceptive advice and treatment can be given to a child under the age of 16 years without informing the parents if the child understands all aspects of the treatment and its implications. The child cannot be required to inform their parents.
  • In some countries, there is a discrepancy between the age of sexual consent and the age at which children can access reproductive or sexual health services without parental consent. In Greece, Poland and Slovakia, the age of sexual consent is 15 years. However, accessing reproductive or sexual health services without information being submitted to the parents is only possible at 18 years. In Hungary, the difference is four years: the age for sexual consent is 14 years, while children can access reproductive or sexual health services without parental consent only at 18 years.
Member States where there is a discrepancy between the age of sexual consent and the age at which children can access reproductive or sexual health services without parental consent
Member State Age for sexual consent Age at which children
can access reproductive
or sexual health services
without parental consent
EL 15 18
HU 14 18
PL 15 18
SK 15 18

 

Downloads: 

Minimum age requirements concerning children's rights in the EU - Specific data on Marriage and sexual consent; Citizenship; Political Participation; Religion; Health.

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