Family First NZ is disappointed by comments made by Prime Minister John Key on the Stuff.co.nz web chat this week that there would be no changes to the parental notification laws.
In response to a question as to whether the National government would address the position of girls having an abortion without their parents’ knowledge or consent, Mr Key responded that there were no proposed changes to the law but that they ‘encouraged’ parental engagement.
“Unfortunately this response is out of step with the wishes of NZ’ers. A recent poll of 1,000 people found that four out of five people supported parental notification laws requiring parents to always be informed before-hand if their daughter who is under 16 is pregnant and wants to have an abortion. ‘Encouragement’ is not sufficient,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“This was a very strong response with a clear message and 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.”
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 aware of young girls being written to directly asking them to make an appointment to have the Gardasil vaccine.
“This all effectively 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,” says Mr McCoskrie.
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 Texas, Michigan, Minnesota, and other US states have seen a drop in both the
pregnancy rate and the teen abortion rate – a win-win situation for all concerned. This is especially relevant when
almost 80 teenagers a week have an abortion in NZ,” says Mr McCoskrie.