Young girls boost abortion total

Waikato Times 12/07/2010

Seventeen children had abortions at Waikato hospitals in the last year, prompting calls for parents to have the right to know if their child is considering an abortion. The girls – aged between 11 and 14 – were among the 2061 patients who had abortions performed at hospitals in the region for the year ending June 2010. It follows a peak of 2751 abortions in 2008 – 23 of which involved girls aged 11 to 14, Waikato District Health Board figures reveal. The statistics have prompted calls for a law change to give parents a legal right to be informed if their daughter was considering an abortion. But health providers warn that would be a disastrous move. In 2004 National MP Judith Collins proposed a law change that would have made it mandatory for parents to be informed, but the amendment was voted down – a move national medical adviser for Family Planning Christine Roke agreed with. Dr Roke said girls often felt pressured to make decisions about their pregnancy that they didn’t want to. “… sometimes the family may be part of the situation and so therefore it is not ideal that they be informed,” she said.

Hamilton West MP Tim Macindoe said while he accepted in some situations it was not possible for the family to be advised of the pregnancy, he believed that in most cases the support from loved ones would help. If it was his daughter he would want to be told, he said. “I have never been faced by that situation, but I would be devastated if I hadn’t been given the opportunity to be there as support for my daughter,” he said. “I have always believed parents should be informed and that only when there is a really dangerous situation should the information be withheld.”
Anti-abortion activist Robyn Jackson said denying parents the right to know was “almost child abuse”. “Why should a counsellor or teacher be able to help these girls make these sorts of decisions when, as a parent, you are the person who is legally responsible for them?