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20 / 05 / 2011 - New Zealand schools help girls obtain secret abortions
Schools in New Zealand are helping to arrange secret abortions for teenage girls, causing deep anger and concern from parents.
One mother “Helen” found out about her 16-year-old daughter’s abortion four days after it took place.
“I was horrified. Horrified that she'd had to go through that on her own, and horrified her friends and counselors had felt that she shouldn't talk to us,” she told the New Zealand paper the Sunday Star-Times.
Her daughter’s friends told her that the counselor had taken her daughter for a scan and to doctors.
“I didn’t know they could do that,” Helen said, adding that follow-up counseling for her daughter was “nonexistent.”
The mother was too upset to approach the school.
Another mother worried that her 15-year-old daughter had had an abortion but “hit a brick wall” when she approached the school about it. She later discovered that it was a daughter’s friend who had undergone an abortion.
“But I went through the horror of knowing that under the legislation, they did not need to say anything to me,” the woman said.
New Zealand law promises students confidentiality in counseling sessions.
Christchurch lawyer Kathryn Dalzie, author of a book on privacy in schools, told the Sunday Star-Times that on the topic of contraception and abortion counselors would need the consent of their client before they could share information with a parent or the school.
“If that protection disappeared, you can pretty well guarantee the young person won't tell the counselor a thing – particularly the thing you need them to talk about,” Dalzie said.
Any counselor who broke the rules and told a parent without the child’s consent could be fired.
Guidance counselor Helen Bissett told the Sunday Star-Times the situation could be an “ethical nightmare.”
However, she said one of the main reasons girls wanted to hide the truth was not knowing how a parent would react.
“In the heat of the moment, parents can say some pretty rough stuff but once they've got through that, they're often really supportive,” she said.
Bissett reported that she talks to students about getting a family member involved. Girls had to see a doctor fort tests and scans and also had to see two certifying consultants before they could have an abortion.
Bissett said she does not organize any abortions and never wants to.
“I go with them to the doctor, but I won’t go to a termination.”
In 2009 a reported 3,950 11-to-19-year-olds had abortions, with 79 aged between 11 and 14. A female of any age can consent to abortion under New Zealand Law.
In 2004 the national parliament voted down a proposed amendment to require parental notification for abortion-seeking girls under the age of 16.