At What Age Can You Make Medical Decisions Alone?


At What Age Can You Make Medical Decisions Alone?

If you are under 14

In Quebec, If you’re under 14, you need permission from a parent or guardian to get an appointment, procedure, or prescription for birth control. Your confidentiality is not guaranteed. That means that your 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 pregnancy or STI tests.

One way to protect your confidentiality is by choosing clinics that let you stay anonymous. Such clinics won’t ask for your name and are not attached to your medical record. Unfortunately, only a few clinics let you stay anonymous. In Montreal, the Head & Hands clinic is one of these clinics and it can see you anonymously if you’re 12 or 13.

If you’re pregnant and you’re under 14, the law says that your guardians can decide if you can get an abortion. But, they are supposed to take your opinion into account! If you and your parents disagree, you can take the decision to court and have a judge decide. Read more about this here.

If you are 14 to 17

Once you’re 14, you can almost always get medical care like birth control, STI tests, and abortions without your guardians’ knowing. Check out more details here

But If you’re 14 to 17, the law says you need your guardians’ permission for:

  • Any risky or dangerous treatment
  • Treatment that could have serious and permanent effects on your body

This means that most 14 to 17-year-old trans or non-binary people who want gender-affirming surgeries need guardians’ permission.

If you’re 14 to 17, doctors also need to tell your guardians when you stay in a hospital or social services institution for more than 12 hours. If it’s under 12 hours, then 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.

If you’re 18 or over, your healthcare is always confidential. It doesn’t matter how long you stay at a hospital.

Refusing medical services you don’t want

If you’re 14 to 17, you have the right to turn down medical treatment if you don’t think it’s right for you.
That means if your guardians, doctors, or anyone want you to take medications or to have 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 some exceptions, like emergencies when you’re unconscious and can’t consent or refuse medical treatment. People can also be hospitalized when they don’t want to be if they seem like they’ll hurt themselves or others. But even if you’re in the hospital when you don’t want to be, 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 they use the Public Prescription Drug Plan, it’s confidential once you’re 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. It’s also confidential if you’re 14 or over.

More info

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,…

Are you old enough? (Youth law)

This website from Educaloi has a basic list of how provincial (Quebec) and federal (Canada) laws can affect you, based on your age. Covers a wide variety of…


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