The age of consent for children to access certain health services is being lowered from 16 to 14 in terms of a Bill which started being debated in parliament on Wednesday.

The bill amends the Health Act.

To date the law provided that a person who turned 16 had the right to consent to or refuse medical attention, care or treatment if a medical practitioner thought that such a person had sufficient maturity and understanding to consent or refuse.

Where a medical practitioner felt that the said person lacked maturity and understanding, the consent of the person having parental or other legal authority was required.

Where the medical practitioner believed that the said person had sufficient maturity and understanding but refused such treatment, the treatment may still be given when it was urgently required in the best interest of the patient.

Reference to treatment was deemed to include a reference to psychiatric treatment and counselling.

The new law lowers the age of consent to 14 and extends treatments to include "psychiatric treatment, counselling, therapy, social work and youth work."

The bill was moved by Social Welfare Minister Michael Falzon and backed by Nationalist MP Graziella Attard Previ who both viewed it as 'empowerment' of children.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us