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Medical Rights

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Abortion

Abortions are legal in Canada. Abortions are performed at either a hospital or a clinic that performs abortions. About 20,000 pregnant teenagers have abortions in Canada each year. This section provides information and answers to some of the most common questions teenagers have about abortion. The Pro-Choice Action Network will have more information.

Do I need a parent's consent (agreement) to have an abortion?

You do not need parental consent to have an abortion in BC. Doctors often encourage teens to tell a parent or another important adult who can help them by offering emotional support. Hospitals and clinics must keep the names of teenagers who have abortions private.

What are the alternatives to abortion?

If you decide not to have an abortion you can continue the pregnancy and have the baby. Try to get support to help you make the best decision for you. If you choose to have the baby you can either keep it or place it for adoption. If you decide to have the baby, some single teenage mothers can get welfare or mother's allowance. If you decide to place the baby for adoption, you may be able to choose the family you want to adopt your child. Check the website of the Ministry for Children and Family Development  for information and support.

Is it wrong to have an abortion?

Many Canadians believe that women should be able to choose to have an abortion when they are faced with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. Many people believe that abortion is a responsible decision when a woman cannot handle the pregnancy or properly take care of a child. Some religions believe that abortion is wrong, while other religions consider abortion a woman's choice.

How do I get an abortion?

Hospitals and clinics perform abortions. You can call a clinic that performs abortions and make an appointment. There are six clinics in BC, four in the Lower Mainland, one in Victoria, and one in Kelowna. Each of them offers counselling before and after the abortion. You do not need a doctor’s referral to get an abortion at a clinic.

If you can't go to one of the clinics, you have to get a referral to a doctor who performs abortions in a local hospital. If your own doctor won't refer you, or if you don't want to go to your family doctor, call the Pregnancy Options line at 1-888-875-3163 (or 604-875-3163 in the Lower Mainland) to get a referral. You can also ask for information about which hospitals perform abortions in your area. Visit the Pro-Choice Action Network for more information on where to get an abortion — and abortion counselling — in BC.

Note: Some groups that offer pregnancy counselling are against abortion. They may not provide accurate information about abortion, and they may even try and talk you out of it. You can ask about their position on abortion, before going to the counselling.

How much does an abortion cost?

Abortions are free in BC if you have coverage with the provincial Medical Services Plan (MSP), although there may be a charge for medications not covered by MSP. If you are covered under someone else's medical plan (like your parents) and you don't want them to find out, information on abortions for teenagers is always kept confidential by the BC Ministry of Health.

If you are new to BC and don't have medical coverage, the cost for an early abortion is about $450 to $600. If you can't afford it, you can talk to one of the clinics or contact the Pregnancy Options Line at 1‑888-875-3163 (or 604-875-3163 in the Lower Mainland). Clinics may be able to help with funding or payment plans in special circumstances.

How late in a pregnancy can an abortion be done?

An abortion should be done as early as possible. Unfortunately, many teenagers often decide to have an abortion too late in their pregnancies. Either they don't realize that they are pregnant, or they don't know what to do about it.

Most abortions are done during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Medical abortions (using pills) can only be done up until about the seventh week of pregnancy. In most cases surgical abortions on request can be done after the fifth week of pregnancy up to 14 to 18 weeks in a clinic, or 22 weeks in a hospital.

Abortions are also available after 22 weeks in the rare event that your life or health becomes seriously threatened by the pregnancy, or in cases of serious fetal abnormality. Contact the Pregnancy Options Line at 1-888-875-3163 (or 604-875-3163 in the Lower Mainland) for more information.

How safe is an abortion?

The earlier you have an abortion, the lower the chance of complications. Abortions that occur within the first 12 weeks (the first-trimester) are safe and simple medical procedures that can be performed quickly and routinely. The complication rate for abortions is low — even lower than childbirth.