Termination of pregnancy: Girl aged 12

Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service v Q [2016] QSC 89 saw an application by a hospital for a parens patriae court authorisation to terminate the pregnancy of a gilr aged 12 years. The girl had asked her general practitioner to arrange termination of her pregnancy.

The matter required consideration of the Queensland Criminal Code, as the Court cannot authorise what would otherwise be criminal conduct: [34].

An obstetrician who came to advise Q concluded, after summarising the various risks involved in terminating the pregnancy or continuing with it, that the risks of continuing the pregnancy (some of which were potentially life threatening) “far outweigh” the risks involved in terminating. He also commented that there were psycho-social implications of having a child at the age of 12 with a “lifelong burden which is likely to affect mental health.”: [16]. The court concluded that it was clearly in Q’s best interests for termination of her pregnancy to proceed. It is necessary to do so in order to avoid danger to her mental and physical health: [40].

The court made declarations such that:

  • the termination of Q’s pregnancy by the therapeutic administration of the drugs Mifepristone and Misoprostol is necessary to avoid danger to Q’s mental and physical health and is lawful; and
  • if the administration of the said drugs fails to effect a termination of Q’s pregnancy within 5 days then the termination of Q’s pregnancy by surgical operations is necessary to avoid danger to Q’s mental and physical health and is lawful.