A pregnant 12-year-old girl from Queensland has been given permission to have an abortion by the state’s Supreme Court.
In Queensland, abortion is a crime under the state’s Criminal Code. However, case law has meant that abortion is generally regarded as lawful if it is being performed to prevent serious danger to a woman’s physical or mental health.
The court published a judgment yesterday that ordered the girl, who has been given the pseudonym “Q” and is nine weeks pregnant, could have the abortion for the sake of her own mental and physical health.
In an affidavit, Q said she had run away from home, had attempted suicide and had been finding her pregnancy to be very stressful emotionally.
Her mother told the court that she believed there was a very real risk of self harm or suicidal behaviour if Q’s pregnancy was allowed to continue.
Before ending up in court, the girl had been to her GP to seek permission for an abortion around a month ago and had also seen a social worker on several occasions, two specialist obstetricians and a psychiatrist.
Q, her parents and various medical practitioners all agreed that abortion would be the best course of action.
Justice Duncan McMeekin said that Q was mature enough to grant consent to having the termination and that an abortion with one of the two drugs Mifepristone and Misoprostol was clearly in her best interests.
“It is necessary to do so in order to avoid danger to her mental and physical health,” he wrote.
Justice McMeekin said the first reason for the court’s intervention was to determine if the girl was mature enough to give her consent to the termination.
He said that a child’s parents could give permission for most medical procedures until the child was deemed to be “mature” enough to make the decision for themselves. However, for abortion parental consent was “arguably not sufficient”.
“I was principally concerned that it was her own view that she expressed, not a view that she felt she ought to hold because of any perception of pressure from others,” he wrote.
“I am satisfied that Q has reached her own independent view of what she thinks is the best decision to take.
The baby’s father, who is said to be about the same age as Q, was unaware of the pregnancy.