Pregnancy

For free and confidential legal advice about this topic, please contact us here.

Depending on your individual needs, there are a range of options that help to support young people that are pregnant. At all times, your health care comes first and should be your priority in all circumstances. If you think you might be pregnant, it’s best to see a doctor as soon as you can. 

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What can I do if I’m pregnant?

Pregnancy can be confusing and scary, particularly for a young person.  If you’re pregnant, it is a good idea to talk to someone about your situation. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone that you know such your parents, or a friend you trust, you can always try: 

Do I need my parents’ permission to go to the doctor? Will the doctors tell my parents that I am pregnant?

If you are pregnant, the most important thing to do is to make sure you receive health care and support throughout your pregnancy.  It is important for you to talk to a healthcare professional, who will be able to best explain all the options you have and their consequences. In Australia, free medical treatment is provided to all citizens and permanent residents through the Medicare system. For more information see this Medicare page.

If you are under 18 years of age, the doctor will need to decide whether you are able to consent (agree) to medical treatment (including seeing a General Practitioner) based on your age, maturity, the seriousness of the treatment you are wanting or need and whether you fully understand what is involved. If the doctor thinks that you are able to consent, then the doctor will be able to see you without telling your parents.  This means whatever treatment the doctor gives you or whatever you discuss with the doctor, is private and the doctor must not tell anyone else this information, including your parents. However, if the doctor thinks that you are not able to consent because you do not understand what is involved in the medical treatment; the doctor might want your parents to be involved.

The doctor will consider things like:

  • Your ability to understand the issue and the circumstances;
  • How mature you are and your level of independence;
  • The type and sensitivity of the information to be told to others;
  • Your age;
  • How complicated the medical treatment is and what kind of medical treatment it is.

If you want some legal help or advice, you can contact us here.

Do I have to tell my parents that I am pregnant?

There is no law that requires you to tell your parents about any medical treatment you have received or that you are pregnant. You may think that your parents will disapprove or be upset when they find out you are pregnant but it’s good to get their help and support if you can. If you need some help telling your parents you are pregnant you can call the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, which offers a free counselling service. If you’re not sure what to say, this ReachOut webpage provides some useful tips.

What are my options if I’m pregnant?

Once you have found out that you are pregnant you have a number of options. If you decide that you do not want to raise the child, you may be able to get an abortion or give the baby up for adoption. You may also decide you want to raise the child yourself.

Can I get an abortion?

In Queensland, you can get an abortion from a doctor until you are 22 weeks pregnant.

If you are more than 22 weeks pregnant, a doctor can only give you an abortion if:

  • the doctor thinks that it should be done, given the circumstances; and
  • the doctor has talked to another doctor who also thinks that it should be done, given the circumstances.

A doctor can perform an abortion without the agreement of another doctor if that doctor thinks it’s necessary to do the abortion to save your life or the life of another unborn baby (e.g. if you are carrying twins).

Except where it’s an emergency, the doctor has to think about the medical circumstances, your circumstances and other professional standards when deciding whether or not to give you an abortion.

If you want to get an abortion and you are under 18 years old, the same laws about seeing a doctor without your parents’ permission apply. The doctor must think you are mature enough to be able to understand the procedure and what is involved before they will perform the procedure on you. For more information, see our page on your rights at the doctor.

If you want some legal help or advice, you can contact us here.

Can I put the child up for adoption?

You might decide to have the baby but may not feel that you are able to (or want to) raise the child yourself. You may decide you want to put the child up for adoption.  This means the child will legally and permanently become part of a new family, and the birth parents no longer have any legal rights over the child. This means the birth parents will not be able to make decisions for the child or have any responsibilities over the child. All adoption agreements must be made through the Adoption Services Queensland, a part of the Department of Communities (Child Safety Services).

To begin the adoption process, both parents must agree to have the child adopted and be given counselling and information about the adoption process. However, there are exceptions in some circumstances, including if the other parent is unreasonably withholding their consent to the adoption.

After both parents have consented to the adoption, both birth parents have 30 days to change their mind about the adoption.

After the 30 days have passed, an adoption order can be made which will place the child into the care of adoptive parents for at least 12 months. During this period, Queensland Adoptive Services will supervise the child to make sure that the child is being cared for and looked after. After the child has been in the care of the adoptive parents for at least 12 months, a final adoption order may be made which will give the adoptive parents all legal rights over the child and the birth parents will no longer be able to make decisions for the child or have any responsibilities over the child.

Can I go to school while I’m pregnant or after I have the baby?

If you go to a public school, your school cannot ask you to leave or request that you continue your studies from home just because you are pregnant or have a baby. This is discrimination and it is illegal. If your school asks you to leave or requests  you stay at home while you are pregnant please contact us for advice. For more information about discrimination  see our Discrimination page.

Once you have the baby, you may like to return to school or engage in flexible or part-time study.  You should talk to your school to discuss the best options for you.

Please note that religious schools do not have to follow some anti-discrimination laws.  

After the baby is born

Register the birth

After you have the baby, you must register the birth at the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry within 60 days of the child’s birth. You must register the birth even if the baby was not born in a hospital. The hospital, doctor, or midwife may give you the forms to fill out to register the baby’s birth. There is no cost to register your child within 60 days of its birth. However, if you want a birth certificate you will need to pay a fee.

Healthcare after the baby is born

If you have the baby, your baby will be entitled to free health care through Medicare.  During the first years of the baby’s life, your baby may require many important immunisations. There is no current law that requires you to get your child immunised. However, your child’s history of immunisations may be required when you enroll your child into school for the first time. You can claim back the cost of any immunisations through Medicare. 

If you are under 25 and you have a legal question about pregnancy that we haven’t answered here, you can get help here.

 

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