oa South African Family Practice - Ethics and medicine : revisiting the Children's Act and the implications for healthcare practitioners : ethics CPD article

Volume 55, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 2078-6190
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6204



Under the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, the rights of children are protected in the same manner as are those of ordinary South African citizens. In Section 28, the Constitution also makes provision for the protection of specific children's rights. Thus, for children, constitutionally articulated rights, such as the right to autonomy (derived from the privacy rights), the right to equality, the right to education and freedom of religion, expression and association, are meaningful. It is mainly through social services for children and their families that definitive objectives are met, such as family (or alternative) care, protection from ill-treatment, neglect, abuse and degradation, and the best interests of the child. This article focuses on human rights issues that relate to children and explores the Children's Act with regard to children and informed consent, surgical operations and termination of pregnancy. It concludes that children need support from their families and communities when faced with medical decision-making, and that in the context of children, professional medical practice requires patience, dedication, honesty and mindfulness.

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