Parental information on under 16 abortions

Stuff reports:

Parliament has rejected a petition calling for it to be made compulsory that parents be informed if their teenager was to have an abortion. 

Parliament’s Justice and Electoral select committee has released its report into the petition of Hillary Kieft and six others, that it passes legislation to prevent under 16-year-olds having abortions without notifying the parents.

It disagreed with Kieft, but recommended rules and guidelines should be strengthened to ensure under-16s were given the best possible information around post-procedure care, and encouraged to tell their parents themselves. 

I think generally parents should know if their child has had an abortion, just as they would for any other medical procedure. However there are cases where it would be unsafe to tell the parents, so the challenge is how to deal with those situations. Do you legislate that parents must be informed, and require a kid to get a judge’s permission not to? Or is that too daunting?

In the vast majority of cases, parents should be told (and are I believe). It is hard for them to be parents if they can’t support their kid through what will be an emotionally turbulent decision (for many, not all).

Kieft’s daughter was 15 when she was taken for an abortion in Hawera in 2010 that was arranged by her school.

Afterwards, she was dropped home to her parents where they were told she had been to a counselling appointment.

A year later their daughter attempted suicide and it was only then that she confided she had been taken to a Family Planning clinic for an abortion and had not received any follow-up counselling or medical treatment.

The Taranaki mother appeared in front of the select committee in August last year, to speak to MPs about her petition. 

She told them that as a result of the abortion her daughter is now infertile, and took medication every day to deal with depression.

“She was denied the support of her family and we were robbed of the ability to properly support and help our child. We also lost a grandchild.”

But while the committee was sympathetic to Kieft’s situation, it found in some cases, a young person could be put at risk of harm if their parents were informed.

“The evidence presented by the relevant organisations overwhelmingly demonstrated that, although it is best practice for a young person to tell her parents that she is pregnant, this should not be mandatory.

“Young people should be encouraged and supported to tell their family, but in some situations this would put them at risk of harm, the Justice and Electoral Committee has ruled.”

So again it is who decides in each case if it is warranted. A judge or the young person concerned?

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