MPs Tell Parents They Have No Right To Know

Media Release 7 July 2016
Family First NZ is slamming a select committee considering laws around parental notification after their decision to reject a call for parents to be notified when their daughter is pregnant. Family First is also disgusted that the committee excluded a parent group and other parents affected by the law from making oral submissions to the committee – despite the issue being a key family issue.

“As ex-President of the USA Bill Clinton said – governments don’t raise children, parents do. If parents don’t know, they can’t care. Politicians have voted to keep parents in the dark,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“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.”

Research shows 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.

“The committee is also completely wrong to say that only 10 girls per year fail to tell their parents. This data is simply not collected. In fact, the Family Planning Association previously admitted that potentially 1,000 young teenage girls have been taken for an abortion without their parents knowledge since 2004, when a change to the law was rejected by Parliament,” says Mr McCoskrie.

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.

Family First is also attacking the process used by the Select Committee.

“It seems incredible to us that on an issue so relevant and concerning to parents as this one, the Committee sought evidence from medical professional, counsellors, privacy groups, and those with vested interests (Family Planning) – but not a single group representing the sector of society so affected by this legislation – namely, parents. We believe the actions of the committee to be against the process of fairness and natural justice. The issue is parental notification, but they have chosen to exclude the voice of parents,” says Mr McCoskrie. 

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.

ENDS