Arguing against parental notification for teen abortions

Stuff reports:

Karl du Fresne suggests the Care of Children Act 2004, which allows pregnant teens to seek abortion without notifying their parents, be changed to enforce parental notification.

He calls it a “modest request” (Politicians will run a mile, but our abortion laws encourage deceit, September 4).

It isn’t remotely modest. First, at age 15 and under, there is no practical difference between parental notification and parental consent, because parents have a high degree of physical control over their under-16s. This means parents could force their teens to become mothers. This has happened in the United States.

I don’t accept that assertion. It relies on several improbable things such as the parents being of such strong views that they would force their daughter into keeping the child, but also that they would basically keep her confined at home for several months. How likely is this? A couple of cases from the US is not proof that this would be at all common.

Also you could have notification after the event, not before.

Second, the law change is unnecessary because the vast majority of pregnant teens tell their parents. All counseling bodies involved with teens encourage it. The teens who don’t tell fall into two categories: those who fear physical and mental abuse, and those who are ashamed of disappointing their parents.

If the law is changed the first group will suffer harm, assault, homelessness, and even death so that the second group can enjoy the benefit of being forced to acknowledge their parents still love them. The benefit does not outweigh the harm.

What are the relative numbers in each category? How many would be abused by their parents? And couldn’t you have an exception for those who fear abuse? The author may have a point but nowhere does he actually try and measure the size of each group or the probability of benefit or harm.

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