Pregnant Teens Can Self-Refer For Abortions With No Safeguards

Media Release 7 August 2019
Family First NZ says that the proposed abortion law reforms will result in the ability of teenagers to self-refer for an abortion with no notification to their parents or guardian and no effective safeguards.

“The Government is telling parents it’s none of their business if their teenage wants to keep their pregnancy secret, and they’re giving a distressed pregnant teen a free pass to a rushed abortion. Parents should be outraged by these extreme proposals,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“As ex-President Bill Clinton said – governments don’t raise children, parents do. If parents don’t know, they can’t care. The government wants to keep parents in the dark.”

“Under the proposed criteria for abortion up to 20 weeks, abortion is on demand for any woman. A ‘woman’ is defined by the Bill as a person of any age able to get pregnant. Abortion advocates say that we should trust a ‘woman’ to make a decision about her own body, and yet here we are talking about a pregnant young girl who will be left to make a life-changing decision without any meaningful support.”

“The Government’s bill has failed to put in place any safeguards to ensure that the young girl is not seeking the abortion as a result of abuse or coercion from a boyfriend or family member. There will be no requirement that the young girl receive counselling prior to having an abortion. The Bill does not outline what information the abortionist will be required to provide to her as to her other options, available supports, or even a detailed understanding of what an abortion involves. There is no stand-down period to ensure that she has had the opportunity to carefully consider her options prior to proceeding with an abortion.”

Official statistics show that up to a third of girls aged under 16 who have an abortion don’t tell their parents – approximately 600-700 teenage girls over the past 10 years.

“So 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 self-referring for 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.

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, 2 out of 3 teenagers (aged 15-21) thought parents should be told.

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