I am staunchly and passionately pro-choice (and pro-life), but that doesn’t mean every story about a woman’s right to choose sits well with me. Take this one, for example.
Parents in New Zealand are apoplectic — and rightfully so, I think — after learning some schools are helping teenage girls get abortions and keeping them secret from their parents. Parent of some girls aged 16 and 17 have learned that school counselors arranged for them to have doctors’ appointments, scans and secret abortions.
“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,” one mother told the Sunday Star-Times newspaper.
But here’s the rub: in New Zealand, educators are bound by the Health Privacy Code.
“When it comes to contraception and abortion, they [counselors] would need the consent of the person before they could share information with a parent or the school,” said an attorney with knowledge in the field.
According to the Star-Times, 3,950 girls in the country between the ages of 11 and 19 had abortions in 2009. By law, a female of any age can consent to an abortion without parental permission. Which actually makes these cases perfectly legal. But as a mom of one daughter (with another one on the way), I would hope my daughters would come to me, not a school counselor, for guidance and advice at such a critical time in their lives.
I’m not sure how I feel about girls of any age not needing parental consent before undergoing a medical procedure of this type (or any type), but I am also not so naïve that I don’t recognize that some girls simply feel that they can’t go to their parents with this kind of news. Still, it seems to me that having a school counselor take a teen girl to get an abortion seems to be overreaching what should and should not be happening in school.
Perhaps the counselors need to start focusing on what got the girls in that position to begin with so the pregnancies can be avoided totally.
How would you feel if school counselors in the United States were doing the same thing?
Image: Creative Commons
“Knocked Up”: Anti-abortion Agenda in the Mass Media