I quite like the proposal by Judith Collins regarding parental notification for under age abortions, even though the NZMA disagrees. It seems to strike a good balance between the two extremes of parents having no rights at all, and parents being able to actually veto or refuse consent for an abortion (as they can do for most other medical procedures).
They two key aspects of the proposal are:
1) Parents only have a right to notification, not a right to veto or refuse consent.
2) If an under 16 year old has genuine concerns about parental notification (as I am sure will often occur in deeply religious families), then they can have this waived by a Family Court Judge.
The judicial involvement sounds very legalistic and off putting in the story (talking about appeals) but on Breakfast TV Judith Collins described it as basically a facility where a doctor can make an appointment that day with a duty Judge, the patient goes along to meet the Judge, it is held in chambers with no lawyers involved, and if the Judge is convinced he or she signs a notification form on behalf of the parents.
Yes there is of course some risk that it may encourage illegal abortions, but one has to weigh up that risk against the profound risks to the family of having a kid go through the trauma of an abortion without the parents knowing what is wrong and unable to help. I suspect many girls in that situation would actually appreciate compulsory notification, as they want to tell their parents, but don’t want to make the decision themselves.
Coments from all are welcome, as long as they are not “men are not allowed to have a view on this issue”.