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ALRANZ Supports Current Law on Teens' Privacy

Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand

15 May 2011

ALRANZ Supports Current Law on Teens' Privacy

ALRANZ said today it was concerned that the understandable anguish felt by a mother whose 16-year-old daughter had an abortion without her mother's knowledge would be used by those opposed to reproductive rights to again call for mandatory parental notification for teenagers seeking abortion care.

ALRANZ president, Dr. Morgan Healey, said the report in today’s Sunday Star Times (“Schools Arrange Secret Abortions”) highlights the complexity of issues surrounding young girls and abortion, but that New Zealand’s current parental involvement laws were important to protect vulnerable teens from coercion and abuse.

“Under the Care of Children Act 2004, teenage girls are treated like other women and given the right to consent, without parental notification or approval, to an abortion. And like all women seeking abortion, the procedure must be approved by two certifying consultants under the grounds set out in the Crimes Act,” Dr. Healey said.

“A study by ALRANZ in 2004, when this issue was last debated in Parliament, suggests most teenagers tell a parent about their situation,” she said. “Of 25 girls aged 14 and 13 who had abortions at the Wellington clinic the year before, only one had not told a trusted adult and she cited a history of family violence. 18 of the girls told a parent.”

“These laws are in place to protect the most vulnerable of girls, who would further endanger themselves should they be forced to seek approval from a parent or guardian. However, girls are encouraged by health-care professionals to tell their parents,” Dr. Healey said. ALRANZ takes the position that most parents would rather the issue of how they communicate with their daughters was left in the hands of families rather than being legislated for by Parliament.

“Unfortunately given the stigma surrounding abortion in this country, women of all ages tend to keep their decision as secretive as possible. I think it is important to bear in mind that young girls are not any different. ALRANZ’s hope is that with greater awareness will come a greater ability to discuss these decisions more openly and honestly. This does not make these decisions any easier, or any less complex, but would create an open space for dialogue,” Dr. Healey said.

Visit: www.alranz.org (See entry: Teenagers and Abortion)
email: msparrow@value.net.nz

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