Master in Food Ethics and Law

UNESCO Chair in Bioethics


  • Bioethics and Law Observatory
  • UNESCO Chair in Bioethics
  • University of Barcelona
  • Faculty of Law
  • Ave. Diagonal, 684
  • 08034 Barcelona
  • (+34) 93 403 45 46
  • Master in Bioethics and Law
  • (+34) 93 403 45 46


The OBD publishes a document on sexual health in adolescence


The increase in abortions, especially among teenagers, together with the rise in the number of HIV infections, many of which occur during adolescence, has led the Bioethics and Law Observatory (OBD) to publish a “Document on Sexual and Reproductive Health in Adolescence”. This analyses the causes of new behavioral patterns related to sexual and reproductive health, and proposes measures to protect the interests of the minor. This is of particular interest at a time when, in Catalonia, since 1999, there has been a worrying increase in abortion among girls aged 15 and under.

The authors claim that the public debate on this matter is insufficient and inappropriate. They emphasizes that both ethical and legal proposals must be acceptable to the majority and respect minorities, in accordance with basic respect for human rights. The authors also deplore that, after 25 years of democracy,  the sexual education  timidly proposed during the transition has not yet been applied.

OBD points out the necessity of sexual education during the difficult period of adolescence. Such education does not necessarily induce sexual activity, nor, as underlined by the WHO, does it lead to sexual precociousness or promiscuity. In contrast, it stimulates reflection and analysis. This education must involve parents and health care professionals, and it must consider both physical and mental health.

The document states that health-care professionals should attend to minors without the parents’ knowledge or consent. Such confidentiality should be breached only if the minor so requests, or if  her sexual activity seriously endangers her health. In any case, the minor’s consent should not be pre-empted.

Health professionals should prescribe appropriate preventive treatment, including the “morning-after” pill. The WHO and the health department of the Autonomous Government of Catalonia (Generalitat) insist on the obligation of doctors to prescribe this pill when indicated. The distribution of this pill should be extended to schools, health centers and emergency services.

The aim of the document, rather than suggesting new measures, is to draw attention to the options available to the administration in education and health and to suggest possible improvements that would render the rights of the minor and the parent compatible with the responsibility of the administration.

The document is the result of an interdisciplinary debate among 30 specialists from anthropology, law, nursing, philosophy, medicine, teacher training, psychology, sociology, all under the coordination of OBD director Maria Casado. I was presented yesterday at a conference, presided by the Rector of the University of Barcelona Joan Tugores and attended by  Maria Casado.