Friday, July 8, 2016
We support the decision by a Parliamentary Select Committee that mandatory parental notification is not in the best interests of young people seeking abortion services.
We say that in a perfect world, all young people would have open, supportive relationships with their parents where they could discuss their sexuality and sexual and reproductive health care needs and choices. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and there are circumstances where young people need access to sexual and reproductive health services without involving a parent or guardian.
New Zealand’s current legal framework acknowledges that young people have the capacity to provide informed consent.
Some young people choose to become sexually active with or without the consent of their parents. We need to ensure they have access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services so they can be safe, healthy and well. Supporting parents to engage in caring conversations with their children about sexual and reproductive health issues should be a government priority alongside reducing family violence and sexual violence.
The Justice and Electoral Select Committee yesterday released its report responding to a petition calling for parental notification when a pregnancy is confirmed for a young person under 16. The Select Committee concluded that the evidence presented by the relevant organisations overwhelmingly demonstrated that, although it is best practice for a young person to tell her parents that she is pregnant, this should not be mandatory.
Young people should be encouraged and supported to tell their family, but in some situations this would put them at risk of harm. The Committee concluded that mandatory unconditional parental notification could result in some young people being forced into making a decision against their own wishes.
“Accordingly, we do not think that a requirement to notify parents that their child is pregnant should be introduced. Ideally, and in most cases, a child will tell her parents so they can support her through the process. However, if a child has the capacity to consent to an abortion but does not wish to tell her parents she is pregnant, this wish should be respected,” the committee said.
Read more about Parental Notification for under 16s
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