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Questions and Answers

It’s Confidential! When you can get Birth Control, an Abortion, or More Without your Parents Finding Out

After you turn 14, you can get medical care like birth control, STI tests, and abortions without your parents finding out. They’re confidential, and you also don’t need their permission! This is true for…

  • Prescriptions for drugs like birth control or treatment for STIs
  • Medical procedures like abortions or getting an IUD inserted
  • STI testing or any other kind of testing
  • Seeing a doctor, nurse, or even a therapist

You get to decide whether you want to get any of these. When you do, it’s confidential! That means that your parents or guardians won’t find out what you talked about, and 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!

If you’re 14 or over… it’s confidential!

You can always ask doctors or nurses what they might need to tell parents and what’s confidential. It’s good to know your rights before deciding!

The law is very clear: once you turn 14, you get to decide. And your choices are confidential. But if you’re between 14 and 17, there are some exceptions to the law that could impact you. For instance, if you have to spend more than 12 hours in a hospital or clinic, they’ll need to tell your guardians.

Longer stays like this can happen with things like major surgeries. You shouldn’t have to stay that long for routine check-ups or minor procedures. For any stay less than 12 hours long, your visit is confidential.

Surgical abortions near the start of a pregnancy are very low-risk. They usually only take about 10 minutes. Even with recovery time afterwards, the chance you’ll stay long enough that staff need to tell your parents or guardians is very low.

If you’re between 14 and 17, the law also says your guardians need to be told before you get a risky or dangerous treatment. They could say no.  It’s the same if a treatment could have serious and permanent effects on your body. For example, a surgeon needs to ask a parent’s permission before changing or removing a body part, like breasts. But a doctor doesn’t need to tell guardians for removing a mole or for prescribing hormones.

Sometimes, to set an appointment or follow up, a clinic might leave a voicemail. Some clinics will ask you if it’s okay to leave phone messages at the number they have on file. Even if they don’t, you can ask them not to leave voicemails if you don’t want your parents to hear them.

If you’re 18 and over, it doesn’t matter how long you stay, or what the procedure you’re having done is. Your visit is always confidential.

What about getting drugs at a pharmacy?

If you get a prescription for a drug like birth control or STI treatment 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 an insurance card to pay less for their prescriptions, or even get them for free!

With the Public Prescription Drug Plan

If your parents are on the public prescription drug insurance, it means you are too! This is not the same as having RAMQ medicare, though.

If you’re on the public insurance plan, you’ll pay less or nothing for prescriptions when you show your RAMQ card at the pharmacy. This kind of insurance protects your confidentiality. There’s no way for your parents or guardians to find out if you get prescriptions with public insurance.

With private insurance

It’s trickier if your parents or guardians have private insurance. If you use it to pay for a prescription, procedure, visit, or testing, it will show up on the records they get. They might see that you got it.

In this case, there are a few ways to fill a prescription without your parents finding out. Unfortunately, you might need to pay full price for a drug.

  • You can go to a pharmacy that doesn’t have you on file and not give any insurance. Then you can pay the full price.
  • You can also ask the pharmacist to not put the prescription on your insurance. Then you can pay the full price.
  • Some CLSCs and clinics can give you a free samples of some drugs, like the birth control pill. You can ask a nurse or doctor!
  • It may be possible for you to get your own confidential insurance card from your parent’s insurance plan.
  • You can also look at other private plans to get your own insurance.

There are also risks if you use your parent’s or guardian’s private insurance card to pay for a visit or for testing. They could see the charges and know you got an appointment, or got tested. But, if you use the RAMQ medicare card, it’s free, and nobody can see what it was used for. If you don’t have a RAMQ card, you can go to somewhere like Head & Hands, where testing is free and anonymous for people 12 – 25. You don’t need to give your name so there’s no way for your parents to find out.

If you’re 13 or under, confidentiality is more 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 to ask to stay anonymous. In that case, the doctor or nurse won’t have your name so your parents or guardians won’t be able to find out. Unfortunately, only a few places lets you stay anonymous. The Head & Hands clinic can see you anonymously if you’re 12 or 13. It’s a good place to see a doctor or get tested for STIs.

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 continue or stop the pregnancy. But, they have to keep your best interest in mind, and listen to your opinion.

If you and your guardians disagree on what’s best for you, you can ask a judge to make the decision. Judges can let people get or avoid abortions if they’re under 14, even if the parents or guardians disagree. If you’re in a situation like this, you can talk about it with an adult you trust, like a nurse, or a teacher.

More info:

  • Medical Decisions between 14 and 17 – Educaloi

    This page explains the rules surrounding privacy and confidentiality  for people between 14 and 17.

  • Abortion (law in Canada) – Educaloi

    Details on the law in Canadian around abortion, including ages when parents don’t need to approve.

  • Medical Decisions Under 14 – Educaloi

    This page explains the rules surrounding privacy and confidentiality  for people under 14. It talks about situations when a permission from a judge can be asked, when it’s in the best interest of the person.

  • Head & Hands Health Services

    Head & Hands is a health clinic for youth ages 12-25 near the Vendome metro station. They offer free, anonymous STD testing, even if you’re not covered by RAMQ. Head & Hands also has a lot of other services, including medical check ups, getting contraception, transitioning, and more.

    They offer a walk-in clinic on most Tuesdays and Thursdays starting at 4:45pm. Everyone who comes in for the clinic is given a name card and entered into a draw. At 5:00pm, they draw 10 names to decide who sees the doctor.

    They recommend bringing your Medicare card if you have it, but you can still see someone if you don’t have it.