Family asks for abortion law change for underaged girls

National MP Chester Borrows has presented a petition to Parliament, which will now go through select committee, asking for an amendment to the Care of Children Act.

The Labour Party and Family Planning say they will fight the proposed amendment.

The petition was prompted by the experience of the Kieft family in Stratford in 2009.

Hillary Kieft and her husband Peter found out that their daughter, then 15, had had an abortion organised by her school, when she attempted suicide a year later in 2010.

Last Monday Kieft presented a petition calling for an amendment to the law to Whanganui MP Chester Borrows.

Her petition was aiming at helping both girls and their families facing an unplanned teenage pregnancy.

“Whether or not a girl goes on and has an abortion or not, give us the right as parents to support her through the ordeal,” said Kieft.

The school and Family Planning involvement ended with the procedure, and no follow-up counselling was given.

Six years after the procedure, their daughter still suffered from depression, and was infertile, so would never be able to have children, Keift said.

At 15, their daughter was not mature enough to have made a genuinely informed decision on her own, she said.

The reason she hadn’t wanted to tell them about her pregnancy was because she was ashamed and scared, they found out later.

“She thought that we would be disappointed in her, just the normal family stuff.”

So instead, the girls’ boarding school she attended arranged for her to have a termination through Family Planning in Hawera.

“One day she didn’t come home and I rang the school and was told she had gone to a counselling appointment, and she was dropped home later that day.”

That was the day she had had the abortion.

The two proposed changes sought for legislation to ensure parents were notified before daughters are referred for an abortion, and to ensure there is “a fully informed consent” from those undergoing the procedure.

At present, those aged under 16 are able to have information restricted from anyone if it’s deemed “the disclosure of that information would be contrary to that individual’s interests”, according to Section 29 (1)(d) of the Privacy Act 1993.

In order for the changes to be made Borrows would have to get enough support from his caucus and the Minister responsible, Justice Minister Amy Adams, for an amendment to be made.

Ms Adams is making little comment at this stage, except to say the petition has gone to select committee.

Labour’s spokesperson for Justice Jacinda Ardern said the law should remain the way it was.

“There is a minority of young people for whom there may be instances of sexual abuse or even incest or it may just be a dangerous thing to disclose to their family, and that’s who the law is there to protect.” she said.

Family Planning chief executive Jackie Edmond said any changes would be a sad day and a “very backwards step” for New Zealand.

“We’ve already got a very restrictive abortion law that’s outdated and not fit for modern day,” said Edmond.


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