If you are under 18 and pregnant, you might be wondering about the consequences of continuing the pregnancy versus having an abortion. For more information on the choices available to pregnant women, please refer to “Your Options if You’re Pregnant.”
Abortion Is Legal
It is important to know that abortion is legal. In other words, women have the right to end a pregnancy. This is called voluntary termination of pregnancy or, simply, an abortion.
A Free Medical Procedure
If you have a health insurance card, also called a medicare card, you can have an abortion at no cost. You do not have to pay for it because the public health insurance plan covers abortions.
This means you can have an abortion for free in a hospital, CLSC or private clinic. (Even in private health care facilities, abortions are free.)
No Legal Time Limit
The law does not take away your right to an abortion after a certain number of weeks. So, whether you are in your 8th, 12th or 24th week of pregnancy, you still have the choice to do what you believe is best for you.
Did you know that most abortions in Quebec are performed during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, and that most health-care institutions in Quebec are able to carry out abortions (hospitals, CLSCs, private clinics and community clinics)?
To find contact information for the health care institutions in your area, see the Quebec government’s “Portail santé mieux-être” web page.
For more information on the various trimesters of pregnancy and the abortion services available, see our article Abortion: No Legal Time Limits.
Abortion Decisions: What Is Free and Informed Consent?
As is the case with any other medical procedure, if you decide to have an abortion, you must make your decision with full knowledge of the facts. You must also understand the risks of the procedure, how serious these risks are, and the impact of the procedure. The health care professionals you meet with will give you all the information you need to make an informed decision.
Minimum Age for Deciding on Your Own
If you are 14 years old or older and want to have an abortion, you can usually make this decision on your own. In some cases, you need your parents’ agreement or the agreement of the adult who is responsible for you. The different situations are explained below.
As of age 14, you can decide on your own.
If you are 14 years old or older, you can make the decision to have an abortion on your own. You have the right to decide whether to continue the pregnancy.
You do not need anyone else’s permission, either from your parents, partner, friends or health professionals. They cannot make the decision in your place, and they cannot force you to have an abortion or continue the pregnancy.
However, if you have to stay in a health care institution, hospital or clinic for more than 12 hours, your parents or guardian must be notified.
If you are 13 years old or younger, you cannot decide on your own.
If you are 13 years old or younger, you cannot make the decision on your own: you need permission from your parents or guardian to have an abortion.
If your parents don’t agree on what to do, or if you and your parents do not agree, a court can make the decision in your parents’ place.
If you are 18 years or over and you don’t have the legal capacity to decide, you cannot make the decision on your own.
A person lacks the legal capacity to decide if she does not understand what an abortion is or does not understand the consequences of an abortion.
If you are 18 years or older and you do not have the legal capacity to decide, you need another person’s agreement to have an abortion. This person can be a partner, guardian or close relative.
Decision Must Be in Your Best Interests
If someone else has to make a decision for you about whether or not to have an abortion, the decision must be based on your interests alone. The person who makes the decision must take your wishes into account, if you can express them.
Did you know?
Since 1988, abortion has not been a crime. So, you can have an abortion without worrying about being charged with a crime. This also applies to doctors: they can legally perform abortions.