British Mother’s Challenge of Abortion- Parental Involvement Law Advances

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 15, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Mother’s Challenge of Abortion- Parental Involvement Law Advances Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 15, 2004

London, England ( — A British woman has been granted the ability to launch a legal challenge against a provision that prevents parents from being informed when their teenage daughters are considering an abortion.

A High Court judge on Tuesday granted Sue Axon, a mother of two daughters 12 and 15, permission to challenge the Department of Health. The case is expected to receive a hearing in March and then members of the High Court will decide the outcome.

Mr. Justice Hughes looked over papers in the case and determined that Axon had a good enough chance of winning for the court to consider it.

"Abortion is a terrible thing and only in the most exceptional circumstances should children be allowed it without parental consent," Hughes told the Scotsman newspaper.

"I feel that as a mother, they have taken away my right to protect my children. I am prepared to make a stand and challenge them," Axon said. "I want legislation to allow me to be told – not necessarily to stop it – but to be informed at least."

Axon’s attorney, Paul Conrathe, told BBC News that Axon had an abortion 20 years ago that left her emotionally damaged. She wants to help other women avoid the same mistake she made.

"She is saying, ‘I simply want to be involved so I can have some input into this area of their upbringing,’" he told the BBC.

Current guidelines from the Department of Health say the teenager’s right to medical confidentiality supersedes the right of parents to be involved in knowing about their children’s medical condition, even in an invasive surgical procedure such as an abortion.

Conrathe said the British House of Lords had already said that parents should only be denied the right to know about their daughters’ medical condition in "exceptional circumstances" such as an abuse case.

The law caused a nationwide controversy earlier this year when a mother complained that her daughter’s school sent her to have a secret abortion.

Days after finding out about the abortion, 14 year-old Melissa Smith’s mother was able to talk her daughter out it. However, it was too late as the abortion drugs had already killed the developing baby.

John Smeaton, national director of the Society For The Protection Of Unborn Children, told a newspaper in Manchester that his group strongly supports Axon’s efforts.

"We are very much behind such a case," Smeaton. "We think it outrageous that children can seek to have an abortion without parental consent."

"Our supporters include many parents, and they will be redoubling their efforts to get schools to adopt policies which do not allow for any referrals for abortion, with or without parental knowledge or consent," Smeaton added.