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Empowering the next generation: integrating adolescents into the Reproductive Justice movement
  1. Julien Brisson1,2,
  2. Mellissa Withers3
  1. 1 Department of Social & Preventive Medicine, École de Santé Publique, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  2. 2 Social & Behavioural Health Sciences Division, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3 Department of Population and Public Health Sciences, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Julien Brisson, Department of Social & Preventive Medicine, Université de Montréal École de Santé Publique, Montreal, QC H3C 3J7, Canada; julien.brisson{at}


This article explores the ethical implications of mandatory parental consent requirements for adolescents seeking sexual and reproductive health services (SRHS). Using a Reproductive Justice framework, which identifies systemic barriers to accessing healthcare services, we examine ageism as a potential factor restricting adolescents' access to SRHS. While the Reproductive Justice framework has addressed systemic issues like racism and ableism in healthcare, ageism involving adolescents has been less explored. The article challenges the pertinence of mandatory parental consent requirements—as a potential barrier—for adolescents’ access to SRHS. We argue that in the specific context of SRHS (contraceptives, abortion, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections), adolescents’ autonomy (self-determination) should be respected if they request to access those services independently. From a global health perspective, adolescents have a low prevalence and uneven access to SRHS. To address the issue, we propose the integration of adolescence into the Reproductive Justice movement to empower them through education on how to access the SRHS they need.

  • Ethics
  • Health policy
  • medical ethics/bioethics
  • Public health
  • Sexual medicine

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  • Contributors JB conceived the original argument and formulated the initial draft, while MW provided invaluable contributions by enhancing the argument’s robustness and meticulously editing the manuscript. JB is the author acting as guarantor.

  • Funding This project was financed by Julien Brisson’s Canadian Doctoral Award to Honour Nelson Mandela awarded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) (201610GSD-385545-283387) and CIHR’s Canada Graduate Scholarships—Michael Smith Foreign Study.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.