After you turn 14, you can get medical care like birth control, STI tests, and abortions without your parents finding out. It’s confidential and you don’t need their permission! This is true for…
- Prescriptions for drugs like the morning after pill, birth control or treatment for STIs
- Minor medical procedures like abortions or IUD insertions
- STI testing or any other kind of testing
- Seeing a doctor, nurse, or even a therapist
Confidentiality means that your parents or guardians won’t find out what you talked about and they can’t see your medical file.
If you’re 13 or younger, the law says you need your guardians’ permission to see a doctor, get a prescription, or have an abortion. But there are ways for you to get some of these!
What and when they can tell your guardians
If you’re 14 – 17, doctors need to tell guardians if you stay in a hospital or social services institution for more than 12 hours. If it’s under 12 hours, it’s still confidential.
Longer hospital stays mostly happen after major surgeries. It’s rare to stay that long after a routine check-up or a minor procedure.
People who get abortions rarely need to stay at a hospital after. Abortions are very safe and they usually take about 10 minutes. Even if you need time to recover, there’s a very low chance that you’ll stay over 12 hours.
Some clinics might leave a voicemail about an appointment or results. If you’re worried someone will hear them, you can ask any clinic not to leave you voicemails. Some clinics also ask if it’s ok.
If you’re 18 or over, your healthcare is always confidential. It doesn’t matter how long you stay at a hospital.
When you can’t make medical decisions alone
If you’re between 14 and 17, the law says you need your guardians’ permission for….
- Any a risky or dangerous treatment
- Treatment that could have serious and permanent effects on your body
Refusing medical treatment you don’t want
If you’re 14-17 years old, you have the right to turn down medical treatment if you don’t think it’s right for you. That means if your parents, doctor, or anyone wants you do take medications you don’t want to take, or undergo a medical procedure you don’t want, you can say no. Nobody can force you to take birth control, have an abortion, or do anything else related to your health that you don’t want to do.
There are exceptions to this, such as in an emergency if you’re unconscious and can’t consent or refuse medical treatment. People can also be hospitalized against their will if there is reason to believe they are a danger to themselves or others. However, even in the case of involuntary hospitalization, you still have the right to refuse treatment.
What about getting drugs at a pharmacy?
If you get a prescription for a drug like birth control, STI treatment, or hormones from a doctor or nurse, you’ll need to pick up the medication at a pharmacy. You might need to pay for it too.
A lot of people use health insurance to pay less for their prescriptions or even get them for free! This insurance is different from RAMQ medicare.
If you use your guardians’ private insurance, there’s a chance they could see the charge on their bill. But if you use their Public Prescription Drug Plan, it’s confidential when you’re over 14. If you’re not sure what you have, you can ask a pharmacy if you’re on the public plan and give them your RAMQ card.
One exception is the abortion pill, which is also called a medical abortion. You only need a RAMQ medical card to get it for free and it’s confidential if you’re over 14.
If you’re under 14, confidentiality is complicated!
If you’re under 14, you need permission from a parent or guardian to get an appointment, procedure, or prescription. Your confidentiality is not protected. That means that your parents or guardians can ask a doctor, nurse or therapist to tell them what you talked about. They can also ask to read your medical file or see the results of STI tests.
One way to protect your confidentiality is by choosing a clinic that lets you stay anonymously, This means they won’t ask for your name and it’s not attached to your record. Unfortunately, only a few clinics let you stay anonymous. The Head & Hands clinic can see you anonymously if you’re 12 or 13.
Abortions and people under 14
If you’re pregnant and you’re under 14, the law says that your parents or guardians get to decide if you can get an abortion. They still have to keep your best interest in mind and listen to what you want. This situation can be hard, and it may help to talk about it with friends or an adult you trust, like a nurse or a counselor.
If you and your guardians disagree on what’s best for you, you can ask a court to make the decision. Judges can let people get or avoid abortions if they’re under 14, even if the parents or guardians disagree.