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Celebrating Families 12 May 2004

Celebrating Families 12 May 2004

By Judith Collins

Care of Children Bill The Care of Children Bill is just another example of politically correct provisions being hidden in legislation with a fuzzy, family friendly name but with very dangerous provisions for families. This is the Bill that the Government was using to promote the concept of women being "fathers".

Most people will agree that the face of families has changed significantly in New Zealand - certainly since the introduction of the Domestic Purposes Benefit and since the introduction of human assisted reproduction. Not all children live in traditional households of Mum, Dad and the kids. The Guardianship Act, 1982 has long recognised that not all children are brought up by their biological parents and this Act has been used by grandparents and other family to seek guardianship which has effectively meant parental rights and responsibilities. So why the need to change? Do children living in homes where their custodial parent has a same sex partner require a change? I doubt whether there is such a need. Courts deal with unusual and difficult cases all the time and once Family Court proceedings are better able to be reported, more people will be aware of it. I suspect that t

Research is increasingly confirming to us what commonsense has long been saying - not all families are equal. Not all living arrangements are equal and to pretend otherwise is to do a great disservice to children.

In a positive light, the Bill does require some opening up of Family Court proceedings. Clearly though, it doesn't go far enough. Principal Family Court Judge Boshier told the Justice & Electoral Select Committee last week that the Judges supported a far wider opening of the Court. Privacy can be protected. I hope the Government is listening.

Unfortunately, I have one more brickbat on the Bill. Most people will be aware that non urgent medical attention will not be given to children without parental consent. What I was shocked to learn is that there is an exception - abortion. Under a law change brought in by Labour back in the 1980s, any child be she 11, 13 or whatever, can have an abortion without parental consent and even without her parents knowing. I think that this is an outrage. If the child has become pregnant as a result of incest, then her mother - at the very least - should know. If the child has become pregnant as a result of her mother's boyfriend, then her parents - at the very least - should know.

Abortion is not something to be taken lightly. Parents can be left with a seriously disturbed girl and no understanding as to what has happened. It's all very well for people to say that a girl in that situation would tell her parents if there is a good relationship. I think that is rubbish. Girls, at that age, are often very shy at discussing such topics with their parents, and might feel that their parents would be shocked and ashamed. That doesn't mean that the parents shouldn't know. They are the ones left to pick up the pieces.

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