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Parental right to know about child’s abortion

Printer-friendly version Sue Axon fights for the parental right to be informed

On 8 November 2005, Sue Axon took the Department of Health to the High Court over her right to be informed about her child’s wish for an abortion.

Abortion has been put in the same category as the provision of contraceptive services for under-16s. According to the guidance parents need not be told of a pending operation. This is supposed to follow the principle set down in the leading case of Gillick. However, the Gillick ruling decided that, in general, parents should be made aware of treatment decisions made for under 16s, and that it was only in exceptional circumstances that parents should not be informed.

Sue Axon says, ‘If I, as a single mother, am not entitled to know when my daughters are about to undergo a potentially life-changing operation, how can I properly discharge my role as a parent?’ She is seeking not a right of veto, but a right to be consulted.

‘This abortion guidance has completely overstepped the mark. Parents need to give consent for children to have their belly button pierced, to be given their medication at school, and certainly if there is a routine operation. Surely parents must be given the right to be consulted about a serious operation, like a termination. Whether a child has a termination or not will have a major long-term impact on their physical, emotional and spiritual health. It will also have implications on education, finances and many other spheres of life. Most teenagers will not be aware of the full physical and emotional implications of such a decision.’

Andrea Minichiello Williams, LCF Public Policy Officer commented ‘Only if abortions were risk-free could it be argued that parents need not be informed. There is, however, sufficient evidence to show that abortion in young girls is associated with increased mortality, increased suicide rates, a large number of potential very severe/life threatening immediate medical complications as well as long-term consequences affecting subsequent pregnancies, for example increased risk of premature birth (with all the very serious complications prematurity involves) ectopic pregnancy, and others. In addition the prospect of an abortion presents a highly charged moral and conscience decision for a child in which the parents have a right to be properly involved. It is therefore a matter of great importance that this case is brought, and that decisions are made which safeguard children and clarify the role of parents in Britain today.’

LCF media enquiries:
Tanya Yeghnazar, Communications Officer

07717 212 005

Andrea Minichiello Williams, Public Policy Officer

0771 259 1164