One in Three Pregnant Teens Keep Abortion A Secret

Media Release 20 June 2018
Family First NZ says that official statistics now collected on parental notification for teenage abortions show that a third of girls aged under 16 who have an abortion don’t tell their parents. This is in complete contradiction to what the Select Committee said when they considered this issue in 2016.

According to the latest abortion statistics published by Stats NZ, 99 girls aged under 16 had an abortion in 2017 and more than 30 of these girls didn’t notify their parent or guardian.

“Over the past ten years, almost 2000 induced abortions were performed on girls under the age of 16 – an average of 200 per year – so it is estimated that approximately 600-700 of these teenage girls won’t have told their parents. That is more than triple the number to what the politicians had claimed. That is also a huge number of families negatively impacted by this law. The only positive is that the number of teen abortions has dropped dramatically which is great,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

The Select Committee 2016 report said that “only about 60 abortion procedures per year are performed on young people under 16 years old, and of those, less than ten exercise their legal right not to tell their parents or caregivers about the pregnancy or abortion.” This was factually wrong and misleading.

“The Abortion Supervisory Committee has also misled the Select Committee. Statements made by ASC Chairperson, Dame Linda Holloway, to the Select Committee that “most young women do involve their parents.. and it’s only a minority who don’t” had no objective or verifiable standing and were based purely on anecdotal evidence. In fact, they were also highly misleading.”

“Family Planning Chief Executive Jackie Edmond in an interview in 2015 cited a study that suggested that around 25% of schoolgirls who have had an abortion in New Zealand don’t tell their parents they have had one. She appears to have been on the conservative side,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“The law currently means that while a parent has to sign a letter to give permission for their daughter to go on a school trip to the zoo or to play in the netball team or have Panadol, they can be totally excluded from any knowledge regarding that same child being put on the pill or having an abortion. Ironically, if there is a complication from the abortion, the parent’s consent is then required for further treatment.”

International research and evidence suggests that parental notification laws not only decreases teenage abortions by 15%, but it also decreases teenage pregnancies, female suicides, risky sexual behaviour, and protects an adolescent from sexual abuse.

Family First has been contacted by a number of families who have been adversely impacted by the law. Concern has also been expressed by health professionals, teachers, and social workers.

The current law is also out of step with the wishes of New Zealanders. A 2010 independent poll of 1,000 people by Curia Market Research found that four out of five people supported parental notification laws. In a similar independent poll in 2012, teenagers (aged 15-21) were asked “Provided it won’t put the girl in physical danger, should parents be told if their school-age daughter is pregnant and considering getting an abortion?” Almost 2 out of 3 young respondents thought the parents should be told. 34% disagreed. More young men than women agreed, but both had majority agreement.

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