New Zealand Schools Arranging Secret Teen Abortions

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 16, 2011   |   12:53PM   |   Wellington, New Zealand

New Zealand schools are coming under criticism from parents of teenage girls who obtained secret abortions arranged by school officials without their parents’ knowledge or consent.

One mother interviewed by the Sunday Star Times newspaper said she was horrified to learn her daughter had an abortion of her granddaughter four days after the abortion procedure took place. She had confronted her daughter about tearful breakdowns that occurred after the abortion and the teen was scared to inform her mother about the abortion.

“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,” she said.

After her daughter’s friends informed her the school arranged for the abortion, she told the newspaper, “I didn’t know that they could do that” and said it was wrong for teachers to inform parents about minor behavioral or scholastic issues but to withhold information about a major surgical procedure like an abortion.

The mother also told the Times that the school counselor who arranged for the abortion did not provide other advice to her daughter and asked whether she had told her parents but did not follow up when informed the teen had not done so. She described the counselor as “not forthcoming” and said follow-up counseling and support after the abortion was “nonexistent.”

Another mother told the Times and teachers informed the newspaper parents have become considerably upset after learning their daughter had a secret abortion.

Another mother who was worried for her 15-year-old daughter “hit a brick wall” when she approached the school, and eventually discovered it was a friend of her daughter’s who had undergone an abortion. “But I went through the horror of knowing that under the legislation, they did not need to say anything to me.”

One teacher told the Sunday Star-Times she had seen parents become “absolutely livid” after finding out they had been kept out of abortion decisions.

She knew of a Year 13 student who had had two abortions – one with her parents’ knowledge, and one without.

Christchurch lawyer Kathryn Dalziel told the newspaper that New Zealand law makes it so the teen girl would have to give consent for the parents to be notified of the potential abortion.

“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,” she said, adding that school officials who inform parents could face discipline or job loss.

Ken Orr of Right to Life of New Zealand says there should be a “national conversation on how we value, nurture and protect children.”

“Right to Life recognizes that there are tragically some pregnancies that cause great distress for women because of their circumstances and abandonment by the fathers of their child. We recognize that women distressed by their pregnancy are often coerced by family and friends to terminate the life of their child,” he has said. “Most women do not want to terminate the life of their child, they desperately want compassion and help. These vulnerable women deserve the support and protection of the community. A caring community should provide practical support by offering alternatives to the violence of abortion which destroys an innocent and defenseless unborn child.”