Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How old do you have to be to see a doctor in Spain?

That's a trick question of course: you will see a doctor (or a midwife at least) as soon as you are born. The real question is when can a person legally go to the doctor in Spain, on their own without a parent or guardian being present or aware of it?

The answer it seems is 16 although there is a dispensation if the child is suffering or otherwise in need of immediate attention.

It's not just an academic question either. I suppose most parents would like to know everything important that's going on with their kids, even when they are quite big kids who really should be standing on their own two feet. Add to that the fact that teenagers are perhaps more likely than anyone to have sensitive and delicate issues to talk to their GP about and the question of a "parent's right to know" can become controversial.

For example, being a Catholic country, Spain has regular and noisy debates about abortion. It is legal for girls over 18 but currently only with parental consent between 16 and 18. The law is being changed so that 16 and 17 year olds can have abortions without their parents' consent so long as they know about it. A strange compromise that has abortion clinics worried already - for example are they to take a patient's word for it that they have told their parents?

And a lot of sensitive matters are already out of the parents' hands at an age well before 16. For example it is now possible to buy the morning after pill without prescription and at any age which has caused a lot of criticism:

If you have a question about age limits in Spain or other legal questions you can go to the Advoco website and send in a free query. click here Spanish law

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