In Alberta, you do not have to be a certain age to consent to an abortion. You just need to have “capacity.”
The term “capacity” refers to the ability (or inability) to make decisions. In general, there are 2 parts to mental capacity:
- The ability to understand the nature of a decision. This includes understanding all of the information that is relevant to a particular decision.
- The ability to understand the consequences of making a decision. That is, a person with capacity would understand what could happen as a result of making a certain decision.
In Alberta, the law assumes everyone 18 or older has mental capacity, unless it is shown otherwise (usually by a doctor’s opinion or a judge’s decision).
A person under 18 may have capacity. It depends on such things as their age, intelligence, maturity, and the type of decision. A minor who is mature enough to make their own medical decisions is called a “mature minor.”
There is no set age for mature minors. It depends on the person and the seriousness of the medical treatment. For a minor to consent to an abortion, a doctor would need to determine that they were a mature minor with the capacity to give consent.
Only the pregnant woman needs to consent to the abortion. This means:
- her spouse or partner does not need to consent;
- her parents or guardians do not need to consent (even if she is under 18 years old); and
- the biological father does not need to be informed or to consent.