Family Planning against abortion law change

  • 20/09/2015

By Sarah Robson

Family Planning will not back law changes to make it mandatory for parents to be told if their teenage daughter is seeking an abortion.

The organisation says laws requiring the involvement of parents could compromise a young woman's health, as she might delay going to get help or potentially consider an unsafe or self-performed abortion.

Parliament's justice and electoral committee is considering a petition from a Taranaki mother, Hillary Kieft, who is calling for a law change so parents have the right to know their daughter, if under the age of 16, is pregnant before she is referred for an abortion.

But Family Planning chief executive Jackie Edmonds told MPs earlier this week that most young women did tell their parents and the involvement of family was encouraged.

"There is a very small number who don't tell their parents and many of those who don't tell their parents have actually told a trusted adult," she said.

There could also be wider implications around patient confidentiality and young women could feel their privacy had been compromised - that lack of trust could put them off getting medical care in future for other sexual health issues.

Ms Edmonds said part of the problem was New Zealand's "outdated law that isn't fit for purpose anymore".

The grounds on which a woman can seek an abortion are defined in the Crimes Act, while the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977 sets out the process for getting a termination.

A lack of data and information about women who have had abortions can be partly blamed on the fact abortion services are managed through the Ministry of Justice.

"They're not managed through a health service. If you ask the Ministry of Health for any information around abortions, they would have none," Ms Edmonds said.

"You would have lots of data and information if it wasn't a health service being managed through the Ministry of Justice."

Ms Kieft's petition, which has seven signatures, was presented to parliament by National MP Chester Borrows.

In 2014, 150 women aged 15 and under had an abortion.