Alf is somewhat gobsmacked by the involvement of school counsellors in the business of secretly arranging abortions for the daughters of the taxpayers who pay their salaries.
Pro-choice and pro-life groups are wrangling over a teenage girl’s decision to have her school organise an abortion for her without letting her parents know.
Arguments on whether the school’s actions were appropriate flared after a report of a woman’s horror that her 16-year-old daughter was able to have an abortion arranged by a school counsellor with no parental input.
It’s not often something happening Down Under makes it on to Fox News.
But this furore has put us in the headlines there:
An outfit called Mothers for Choice, on the woolly-thinking side of the argument, contends it is essential that young women have the right to access abortions without their parents’ consent and with as much support as possible from within their schools.
Dr Morgan Healey, president of the Abortion Law Reform Association, is on the same side of the argument, saying the privacy laws were implemented to protect vulnerable girls, and that most who had an abortion did tell their parents.
Family First, however, last year commissioned a poll that found 79 per cent of people supported parental notification when a daughter was considering an abortion.
Only 12 per cent said parents should not be told.
Family First national director Bob McCoskrie chides we legislators for botching things in 2004 when we were debating the relevant provisions in the Care of Children Bill.
“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 the netball team, they are totally excluded from any knowledge or granting of permission for that same child to be put on the pill, have a vaccine, or have a surgical abortion.”
Actually, Crusher Collins put forward an amendment to prevent girls under 16 from having an abortion without their parents’ knowledge.
But Helen Clark and her namby-pamby government was running the shop then. The amendment was voted down.
It was a bloody disgrace.
The consequences show up in official statistics: 3950 11- to 19-year-olds had induced abortions in 2009. Of those, 79 were aged between 11 and 14.
Under section 38 of the Care of Children Act 2004, a female of any age can consent to an abortion.
Yet parents are legally responsible for their offspring until the children turn 18 or marry, enter into a civil union, or a de facto relationship with their parents’ permission.
The secrecy attached to the 16-year-old girl’s abortion was disclosed yesterday by the Sunday Star-Times.
The SST reported that a mother was angry her 16-year-old daughter had a secret abortion arranged by a school counsellor.
She found out about the termination four days after it had happened.
“I was horrified. Horrified that she’d had to go through that on her own, and horrified her friends and counsellors had felt that she shouldn’t talk to us,” she said.
She had suspected something was wrong, but her daughter insisted her tears were over everyday teenage dramas.
This mum made much the same point as Bob McCoskrie: teachers could discuss how a student was doing in school or phone parents when their child misbehaved, but would keep life-changing situations such as abortions secret.
She also raised questions about the advice her daughter was given.
Her daughter had since told her the counsellor “wasn’t very forthcoming” with advice. The counsellor did ask the girl if she had talked to her parents, but never pursued it.
One mom is angry that her 16-year-old daughter had a secret abortion allegedly arranged by a school counselor.
Alf received a copy of the Mothers for Choice press statement on the matter this morning.
“As parents, we know how important it is to have open dialogue with our children about important events in their lives,” said spokesperson Rebecca Matthews. “But we need to balance that with the ability of our children to access the medical and counselling support they need when they find themselves facing an unwanted pregnancy.”
Matthews said that young women patients had the same right to privacy about their medical care as adult women, and that the law needed to protect these girls from any coercion or abuse regarding their decisions – and especially from any abuse within the home.
“Clearly, it would be upsetting to discover your child had gone through a termination that you could have supported them through,” said Matthews. “But that upset cannot outweigh young women’s access to the health services they need and their rights as patients.”
But are we seriously talking about a health service here?
Or another sort of service – a clean-up-the-bloody-mess service after a randy young buck has had his wicked way with the child, who should never have dropped her knickers for him if she wanted to avoid the shame of explaining herself to her parents.