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 talk to a school counselor. There are also a number of other organisations you can call. You could try
If you are pregnant, the most important issue is to make sure you receive health care and support throughout your pregnancy. It is important for you to talk to a heath care 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 the LawStuff Medical page
If you are under 18 years of age, the doctor will need to determine 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 prescribes 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. For more information see the Lawstuff Medical page
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. If you need some help telling your parents you are pregnant you can call the Kids Help Line on 1800 55 1800, which offers a free counselling service.www.kidshelpline.com.au
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.
In Western Australia, you can go to a doctor and get an abortion up to 20 weeks of being pregnant if you can show:
- You have given your informed consent or,
- You will suffer serious personal, family or social consequences if the abortion is not performed or,
- There will be serious danger to your physical or mental health if the abortion is not performed or,
- The pregnancy is causing serious danger to your physical or mental health
Each of these requirements will be explained below.
Informed consent means that a doctor, other than the one performing the abortion, has provided you with counselling about the medical risks of the procedure and the risks of continuing the pregnancy. The doctor must also offer you the opportunity of further counselling about the abortion or continuing with the pregnancy. Informed consent also requires the doctor to think that you are mature enough to be able to understand the procedure and what is involved.
If you are under 16 years old, the law states that you do not have informed consent unless a parent or guardian has been given the opportunity to participate in the counselling process. However, in some special circumstances, if you are under 16 years old, you can apply to the Children’s’ Court for an order that it is not suitable to involve your parents or guardian in the counselling and that the abortion should continue.
After 20 weeks, abortions are only lawful if:
- At least 2 doctors from a panel of 6 doctors appointed by the Minister for Health agree that either you or the unborn child has a severe medical condition which would justify the abortion and,
- The abortion is performed at an approved facility.
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 legal rights over the child and cannot claim the child back. 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 Department for Child Protection.
To begin the adoption process, you and the father must agree to have the child adopted. Before you agree, you and the father will be given information and counselling about the adoption to make sure you understand what is involved in the adoption process. After both parents have consented to the adoption, the parents have 28 days to change their mind about the adoption. In this period you or the father can write to the Department for Child Protection to say that you no longer agree to have the child adopted.
After this period, an adoption order can be made which will give the adoptive parents all the 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.
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 that you stay at home while you are pregnant then you should contact the Department of Education, the Western Australian Equal Opportunity Commission or the Australian Human Rights Commission. For more information see the LawStuff School 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 and what will work well for you.
Unfortunately, not all schools have to follow anti-discrimination law. Religious schools do not have to follow some anti-discrimination laws. This means that private schools are able to
- expel you for being pregnant;
- ask you to leave for the duration of the pregnancy;
- ask you to study from home while you are pregnant;
- deny you access to other benefits you would ordinarily receive if you were not pregnant; or
- refuse your application for admission because you are pregnant.
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 will give you the forms to fill out to register the baby’s birth. There is no cost to register your child however, if you want a birth certificate you will need to pay a fee of.
Health Care 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 law that requires you to get your child immunised. As a parent it is your decision to decide whether or which immunisations your child receives.
However, your child’s history of immunisations must be given to the school when you enrol your child into school for the first time and your child may be excluded from school if there is an outbreak of a contagious disease at the school if he or she is not immunised. You can claim back the cost of these immunisations through Medicare.
In Western Australia, Child Health Centres provides a valuable free service to help new parents care for and raise their baby. Centres offer information for new parents on areas like breastfeeding, the baby’s growth and development, immunisation and safety. All these services are offered free of charge to West Australian residents.
A list of the early childhood centres near you can be found at the Western Australian Department of Health website:
If you have a question about pregnancy that we haven’t answered here please send us a Lawmail
This page was last updated 23 April 2015.