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Schoolgirl's abortion reignites debate

Published: 6:07AM Monday May 16, 2011 Source: ONE News

There are fresh calls for a change to the law that allows a young woman to have an abortion without telling her parents.

The debate has been reignited after revelations at the weekend that a schoolgirl had an abortion arranged by a school counsellor without the mother's knowledge.

Family First says it is completely unacceptable for a girl to have an abortion while the parents have been excluded but the NZ Association of Counsellors (NZAC) says the law is necessary to safeguard vulnerable girls.

NZAC guidance counsellor Chris Hooker told TV ONE's Breakfast that school counsellors much prefer to work with parents in these situations, but the law is there for the protection and wellbeing of the young person.

"We don't believe the law needs to change, on balance," he said.

Hooker said counsellors try to get parents or another family member involved and encourage students to talk to family members, but he said sometimes that is not possible and the law means they can't break confidentiality.

"It's a tricky, complex situation."

He said time constraints around abortion mean the Family Court process would not be practical but Family First director Bob McCoskrie said that could be addressed by speeding up the court process.

Family First is adamant parents should be part of the process when a young teen is trying to figure out whether or not to have an abortion.

McCoskrie said when it comes down to a serious medical procedure like an abortion or what to do with an unwanted pregnancy, parents cannot be excluded and officials can't hide behind confidentiality.

He said the code of ethics and Families Commission say parents have a right to know about health issues for under 16 year olds and it is ridiculous to say a counsellor who has a temporary involvement in the life of the girl is in a better position to make a decision than the parents who are there full time.

Family First wants the law changed so that parents "will know, will be part of the process and will be part of the decision".

McCoskrie said in the exception where the child is at risk, or in the case of incest, officials can apply to the Family Court and get an exclusion.

The current default situation means parents are excluded, McCoskrie said.

"At the moment parents are being demonised in this process."

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  • tarajm1 said on 2011-05-17 @ 09:34 NZDT: Report abusive post

    This is quite complex. If kids dont feel they can talk to their parents in these cases they need to have someone to talk to. You can not say IN ALL ACSES parents must be told, as in some cases (please note I said "in some cases") the parents couldnt care less or it may have been a family member that got her pregnant in the first place and she didnt know how to tell her parents. Please dont be blind to the fact that not every parent cares like most do

  • Hydra9 said on 2011-05-16 @ 20:26 NZDT: Report abusive post

    It is naive to think that all parents should be involved in a young persons personal issues. The current law is working well in protecting young people from emotive and hostile influences which may make them make the wrong decision because of pressure or duress. Remember that from the age of 14 young people can be left unsupervised at home, and be in charge of younger siblings. This is a complex and delicate issue that requires people to remember that the young person has rights too.

  • shinysilverpyjamas said on 2011-05-16 @ 17:39 NZDT: Report abusive post


  • bver said on 2011-05-16 @ 17:09 NZDT: Report abusive post

    How can anyone expect a minor to make an informed decision on this? Either the parents are the legal guardian or not. I won't be staying in a country where my kids are brought up by the state, especially as CYF are doing such a great job (not)!!

  • Elsie200 said on 2011-05-16 @ 15:11 NZDT: Report abusive post

    "Most likely had an abortion themselves"?! Where on EARTH are you getting this from?!