French legislation clearly addresses the pregnancy of teenagers who are minors (under 18 years of age). In France, an unmarried minor alone: (1) can decide to pursue her pregnancy; (2) can legally recognize her descendant and thus accord her lineage, and (3) can exert parental authority over her child, but (4) she remains under the authority of her parents. So while marriage emancipates a minor, according her recognition as an adult, her pregnancy does not. When she is hospitalized to give birth she must be accompanied by one of her parents who can give signed consent for any type of intervention, for example a cesarean or general anesthesia for forceps insertion. For the adolescent, the pregnancy is assimilated with an act requiring, as for all therapeutic interventions, the signed permission of her parents. Furthermore, the physician is not bound by the ethics of medical confidentiality vis-à-vis the teenager; he/she informs the parents of the status of their daughter.
Very recently, in July 2001, French legislation concerning abortion was modified: a minor is now accorded access to this intervention without the authorization of her parents if she so desires. She must however be accompanied by an adult of her choice.
Revision date: June 22, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD