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Confidentiality: A right regardless of age

Confidentiality: A right regardless of age

Confidentiality when accessing health services is a right, regardless of age says leading youth organisation Youthline.

This comes after a Tauranga schoolgirl had an abortion arranged by a school counsellor without notifying her parents, sparking a call for a Private Member's Bill preventing those under 16 from having an abortion without parental involvement.

Youthline Auckland CEO, Stephen Bell says although it is a controversial issue, the bottom line is that youth have the right to access confidential health services and that it cannot be taken for granted that the family home is a safe place to be.

"The youth code of rights when accessing health services developed by the Counties Manukau DHB Youth Advisory Group states that: 'You have the right to be treated with a positive attitude and not be pressured by anyone to do anything you don't want to do' -this aligns with an important principle when working with young, that their safety is the primary issue that needs to guide all interactions.

Of course Youthline understands how important it is for a young person to have the right support network around them, for some this may be a parent and for others it could be a guardian or other trusted adult. What we would do is offer impartial information and guidance to young women in this position, giving them the ability to consider the consequences and risks of having an abortion as well as encouraging them to involve whoever it is they feel comfortable talking with."

Mr Bell says it's not just a practical decision, but it's the emotional one that takes a toll.
"Because this is such a serious issue we have to tread carefully, but we can't risk vulnerable young women not reaching out for help for fear their parents will be told. Safety will always be paramount."

Mr Bell says he understands why parents are concerned and advises them to keep the lines of communication open with their teenagers, to talk with them and be involved in their lives.

"Many girls in this position will see the benefit of turning to a parent for support, but it's a scary thing and they may just need some non- judgmental advice and reassurance from a health service before they tell their parents."

If you are pregnant, considering having an abortion, or want some post abortion support please contact youthline;
Youth help 0800 37 66 33
Free txt: 234
Email and MSN: talk@youthline.co.nz

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