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Right To Abortion Privacy Should Be Upheld Including For Teens

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Chris Ford
Chris Ford

 I believe that the right of teens who have abortions to keep the news confidential from parents and caregivers should be respected.

Yesterday's Sunday Star-Times reported that some school counsellors are arranging for teens to have abortions and are not informing parents or caregivers of this fact. While I can appreciate the angst that parents/caregivers in this situation would feel (particularly if they found out later), I wouldn't want to risk any backlash against teens who might feel that they need to have an abortion.

There are various reasons as to why teenage women (or a women of any age for that matter) might opt for an abortion. In the case of young teens, they may have become pregnant due to contraceptive failure. Also, they might have fallen pregnant due to their being sexually abused by family/ whanau members or other adults. For whatever reasons, the fear of parental or familial reprecussions is the main reason why young women might opt not to disclose to their family the fact that they have had an abortion. 

After all, a woman's decision to terminate an unborn child's life is a difficult one. However, they may have reached that decision after consulting their own conscience and considering the burdens that having a child at such a young age might impose upon them. In saying this, I hope that we can reduce the incidence of teen pregnancy in this country and we are on the right track in terms of providing sex education. I also believe that teens should, if they feel safe, be encouraged by medical practitioners or counsellors to discuss the fact that they have had an abortion with family members or friends whom they trust. Further, this should definitely be encouraged if sexual abuse led to the pregnancy in the first place.

Otherwise, the right of teens to exercise choice in terms of informing parents or guardians of an abortion must be upheld. I know that in the United States, some states have passed legislation mandating that parents or caregivers be informed if their daughters/stepdaughters/granddaughters have had an abortion. I would not favour the passage of similar legislation here for all the reasons outlined above. 

Abortion is a difficult and ethical issue but let's not complicate matters further for young teens who may have to undergo one.



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