Many questions have arisen following the publication by the nation’s Department of Health regarding the age at which young people can access surgical contraceptive practices, which are usually irreversible and risky. At 16, is it so clear what these practices mean for the future? Every September 28th is the International Day of Sexual and Reproductive Rights, for which during this week all Ministries of Health in Latin America distribute information on care to avoid teenage pregnancy and prevent sexually transmitted diseases. In Argentina, however, the announcement caused controversy.
This day, the National Health Portfolio promotes the various methods of sexual care and contraception on social media with a series of colorful flyers. The first post recommended penile condoms, birth control pills, injectable contraceptives, intrauterine devices or IUDs, subcutaneous implants, and “morning after pills” as an emergency method.
But what made headlines was the following post: “From the age of 16 you have access to free permanent contraceptive methods: ligation and vasectomy.” Is 16 years old enough to decide not to be a parent? Maybe maybe not. But do teenagers realize what this “consistency” means? Are they sufficiently informed? For some, the Ministry of Health publication was a “spooky” incentive, for others it was simply a way to communicate rights. The truth is that the portfolio communicated what the various laws dictated.
The right of access to contraceptive methods is recognized in Law 25 673 on sexual health and responsible reproduction and 26 130 on surgical contraception. Both guarantee free access, in hospitals and health centers, social and prepaid services, to any of the contraceptive methods of the compulsory medical plan: condoms, pills, injections, IUDs, emergency contraception, surgical contraception (tubal ligation and vasectomy) and subcutaneous implants
“It is your right, regardless of your age, to have access to information and condoms on your own, without the need for a companion or permission from an adult. From the age of 13, according to the Civil and Commercial Code, it is your right to have independent access to all reversible contraceptive methods,” reads the Nation’s official website.
And more: “The Civil Code recognizes that from the age of 16 you can independently make all decisions regarding the care of your body.
You are only required to put your decision in writing after receiving full and comprehensible information.
The information reproduced by the Ministry is that of Article 26 of the Civil Code. Six paragraphs that regulate the “Exercise of rights by the minor” and read as follows: “Exercise of the rights by the minor”.
The minor exercises his rights through his legal representatives. However, a person who is old enough and has a sufficient degree of maturity can exercise the actions that are permitted by the legal system.
In situations of conflict of interest with your legal representatives, you can intervene with legal aid. “The minor has the right to be heard in all legal proceedings that affect him, as well as to participate in the decision-making concerning his personality. “Adolescents between the ages of thirteen and sixteen are presumed to have the capacity to make their own decisions about these treatments that are not invasive, nor do they compromise their health or pose a serious risk to their life or physical integrity.
“If it is about invasive treatments that compromise their state of health or their integrity or life is at risk, the adolescent must give his consent with the help of his parents; the conflict between the two is resolved, taking into account their best interests, based on the medical opinion on the consequences of performing the medical action or not.
“From the age of sixteen, an adolescent is considered an adult for decisions about the care of his own body.”