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Maxim:No clear right to privacy for pregnant girls

No clear right to privacy for pregnant girls as claimed

“Opponents to Judith Collins’ proposed change to Clause 37 of the Care of Children Bill are manipulating the original intention of the law” says Maxim Institute Managing Director, Greg Fleming.

Clause 37 restates Section 25A of the Guardianship Act 1968, which grants a girl of any age the authority to consent to an abortion; though neither explicitly states that this includes the right to withhold this information from her parents.

Section 25A was inserted in 1977 following recommendations from the Royal Commission of Inquiry; but the Commission’s report clearly shows the assumption at the time was that parents would always be informed and consulted” says Greg Fleming.

“The Commission never promoted the notion that an underage girl be given the right to keep her pregnancy private from her parents, only that in the event of a dispute, the girl’s decision should prevail and not the parents” says Greg Fleming.

It is common practise that parents must consent to any medical treatment for their child, and implicit in giving consent is being informed. Clause 37 removes the requirement for parental consent but nowhere does it state that information can be withheld from parents,” says Greg Fleming.

The amendment being drafted by Judith Collins needs to ensure that medical practise is brought back into line with the original intention of Section 25A, which assumed that parents would always be informed,” says Greg Fleming.

The Herald-Digi Poll and AC Nielson Poll both confirm that the public would support a move to clarify the law so that parental notification, which is necessary for all other medical procedures on children, also be required before an underage girl has an abortion. The state should only interfere with the parent-child relationship when a girls safety is threatened.

“The words of Clause 37 may not be new, but the intention of the current government certainly is. Clause 37 now needs to state what the 1977 Commission originally intended; that parents would always be involved in their daughter’s life at such a crucial time”, says Greg Fleming.

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