Media Release 26 Apr 2015
Family First NZ is supporting calls for a review of the parental notification laws for teen abortions and agrees that young pregnant teens should have the support of their parents, not have their parents alienated from the process.
“The law currently means that while a parent has to sign a letter for their daughter to go on a school trip to the zoo or to play in a sports team or to wear non-regulation uniform, they are totally excluded from any knowledge or granting of permission for that same child to be put on the pill or have a surgical abortion,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
Opposition to the current law is also supported by both parents and also teenagers themselves – according to two polls by Curia Market Research in 2010 and 2012.
The independent poll asked “Should the law require parents to always be informed before-hand if their daughter who is under 16 is pregnant and wants to have an abortion?” An overwhelming majority of 79% responded yes, only 12% said no, and 9% either didn’t know or refused to answer.
When teens were asked a similar question in 2012, 59% of young respondents thought the parents should be told. 34% disagreed. More young men than women agreed, but both had majority agreement.
“It is significant that even young people can see the importance of having parents informed and involved, even when they know that those same parents will be rightly disappointed and upset. This is a very strong response from young people, and is a rebuke to the politicians in 2004 who chose to exclude parents from this process when debating the provision in the Care of Children Bill,” says Mr McCoskrie.
According to the Care of Children Act 2004, access to abortion is not restricted on grounds of age. Section 38 of the Act says that a girl of any age can give consent to an abortion and that consent operates as if it were given by her parents. Therefore, her parents need never know that their daughter is having such a procedure.
Family First is asking for the law to be amended to allow for parental notification in all cases of medical advice, prescriptions and procedures unless it can be proved to a family court that it would place the child at extreme risk.
“Parental notification laws in a number of US states have seen a drop in both the pregnancy rate and the teen abortion rate – a win-win situation for all concerned,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“Important decisions like these should not happen in isolation from parental support. We must acknowledge and respect the important and vital role of parents.”