Queensland court allows girl, 12, an abortion

A 12-year-old Queensland girl was granted permission from a Queensland court to have an abortion to protect her mental and physical health.

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The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons and gave evidence before Justice Duncan McMeekin, described her pregnancy as “very stressful emotionally”.

She was nine weeks pregnant but had already run away from home, cut herself and attempted suicide, according to Supreme Court documents.

The father of the child, who is of a similar age, did not know.

The girl first sought medical help a month ago.

“She has maintained her view consistently throughout that the pregnancy should be terminated,” Justice McMeekin noted.

“She has no wish to be a mother.”

A psychiatrist expressed concern that pregnancy and birth could resume her patterns of self harm.

She had “no idea of the realistic emotional and physical demands that would be part of caring for and raising a child,” their report read.

One of her obstetricians said the risks of continuing with the pregnancy “far outweighed” the risks of termination.

“In summary, the evidence is all one way,” Justice McMeekin said.

Abortion is illegal in Queensland and any person who procures a miscarriage for a woman can be sent to jail for 14 years, while a woman who seeks her own miscarriage can be jailed for seven.

The criminal code, however, also provides that a person is not criminally responsible for performing or providing surgery “for the patient’s benefit or to preserve the mother’s life”.

Justice McMeekin also noted it was the duty of a guardian to “take precautions that are responsible in all the circumstances to avoid danger to the child’s life, health or safety”.

It was “beyond argument” that danger to a child’s health included danger to her mental health, he said.

“It is clearly in Q’s best interests for termination of her pregnancy to proceed,” he ruled in a decision published this week.

“It is necessary to do so in order to avoid danger to her mental and physical health.”

The Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service sought legal orders to allow for the abortion to be carried out.

The court ruled the termination of the girl’s pregnancy, by the administration of two drugs, was lawful and able to be performed on or before April 23.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (for young people aged 5 to 25)