Decision to reject abortion law change slammed by Maori Party, NZ First

Author
Newstalk ZB staff,
Publish Date
Fri, 8 Jul 2016, 3:06PM
Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox supported the petition for mandatory notification to parents before a woman under the age of 16 seeks an abortion (Photo / NZ Herald)
Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox supported the petition for mandatory notification to parents before a woman under the age of 16 seeks an abortion (Photo / NZ Herald)

Decision to reject abortion law change slammed by Maori Party, NZ First

Author
Newstalk ZB staff,
Publish Date
Fri, 8 Jul 2016, 3:06PM

The Maori Party and New Zealand First are against parents being kept in the dark when their young daughters may be considering terminating a pregnancy.

It comes as Parliament's Justice and Electoral Committee has rejected a petition asking there be mandatory notification to parents or caregivers before a woman under the age of 16 seeks an abortion. Instead, it's recommended post-abortion counselling be improved.

The petition was lodged by Hilary Kieft, after her 15-year-old daughter had an abortion while at boarding school.

She only found out about it a year later, when her daughter attempted suicide.

SEE ALSO: Mum who petitioned for abortion law change won't give up

Maori Party Co-Leader Marama Fox said the current law presumes parents are bad and cannot work with their children in a time of crisis.

"We believe that parental concern and consideration for the welfare of the young people needs to ensure that they can support them in what can be a harrowing experience."

Ms Fox believes the issue's not widely understood.

"How many people don't know that if you're under 16 that your child may have a procedure like this and you may never know, and not be able to help them through that."

She said if there's an issue of safety, or perceived risk, to the child that's different - then another organisation such as CYFs should be stepping in for the safety of the child.

New Zealand First MP Dennis O'Rourke said while the committee's made some sensible recommendations, it's not addressed the petitioner's concerns.

"What this petition is about is specifically parental notification, and the committee did not go into the whole area of decision making whether the age is appropriate or not."

However, the Abortion Law Reform Association is applauding the decision to reject the petition.

National President Terry Bellamak said if a child is scared about telling their parents something, they usually have a good reason to be.

"[It's] pretty much the norm that teens at that age generally do tell their parents, so this change would have impacted most on the teens who are most vulnerable."

She said out of the 32 terminations by under 16s in 2015, only a handful did not tell their parents.

But Family First director Bob McCoskrie said politicians are taking power away from parents, who should have a protective factor.

"The politicians have treated parents as being potential enemies, and to be treated as hostile, and for some reason we should only trust professional councillors and we shouldn't trust parents."

Right to Life spokesperson Ken Orr said the select committee has defied the wishes of what he says is the majority.

"In public opinion polls in the past, there's about 80 percent support for parental notification. It really is quite unjust that parental rights have been denied."

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