Health Care Decisions If You’re Under 18

When can you make health care decisions without the permission of your parents or the adult responsible for you?

The answer depends on your age and the type of treatment or procedure. One type is treatment necessary for your health, for example, if you need to be hospitalized. There is another kind that is not necessary to your state of health, such as a tattoo or body piercing.

If You Are Under 14

The law does not let you make health care decisions on your own. You always need your parents' permission. 

Your parents must make decisions based only on your interests, and not, for example, according to their religious beliefs. If possible, they must consider your opinion and talk things over with you to find out whether or not you want the treatment. 

If the treatment is not necessary to ensure your health and it involves a serious risk or could have serious or permanent after-effects, then a court's permission is needed as well. 

If You Are 14 or Over

Care Necessary for Your Health

As a general rule, you can make a decision by yourself about care necessary for your health.

These are some examples of care that might be necessary for your health:

  • abortion
  • hospitalization
  • taking medication
  • plastic surgery needed after a burn or to fix a birth defect
  • blood tests

Your parents will be notified only if you need to stay in a health or social services institution more than 12 hours. 

Care Not Necessary for Your Health

You can make decisions about care that is not necessary for your health. However, if the care involves a serious risk to your health or it could cause serious or permanent after effects, you need your parents' permission. An example would be if you want to have plastic surgery on your nose for esthetic reasons.

Other examples of care not necessary for your health are tattoos and body piercings.

Refusing Care

You are allowed to refuse care that is not necessary for your health. For example, your parents cannot force you to get a tattoo or have plastic surgery if they think your chin is too pointy.

However, if you refuse care necessary to your health, the medical staff must go to court for permission to treat you without your agreement. 

But in the case of an emergency or if your life is in danger, the doctors can get permission to treat you from your parents or the adult responsible for you.

Important !
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.