A Catholic Monthly Magazine

New Zealand Abortion Laws Encourage Deceit

du fresne

by Karl du Fresne

Mention abortion and a lot of people metaphorically block their ears and start humming loudly. At the very sight of the word in this column, some readers will probably turn the page and move on. But this is an issue that refuses to go away. It was re-ignited last week when Hillary Kieft of Stratford courageously spoke before a parliamentary select committee. Kieft’s daughter, at the age of 15, was referred for an abortion without her parents’ knowledge. She later tried to kill herself. The abortion was arranged by the daughter’s school. According to her mother, she was given no other option.

That a vulnerable teenager could be referred for a potentially life-changing and psychologically damaging operation without parental knowledge seems despicable. It deprived her of family support when she most needed it. The defence for keeping parents in the dark is that they can’t always be relied on to support pregnant daughters. Some girls would risk being harshly punished for bringing disgrace on their family, which is despicable in its own way. This provides politicians with a ready-made excuse not to accede to Kieft’s petition for a law change that would require parents to be notified before girls under 16 could be referred for an abortion. It seems an extraordinarily modest request, given that parents are normally assumed to have some control over what happens to their children.But don’t expect Parliament to act. Most politicians run a mile from the abortion debate. Too difficult; too likely to stir up raw emotions.

I expect that the select committee will gratefully seize any reason for not meddling with the status quo. The possibility that not all parents might be as loving as Hillary and Peter Kieft will provide them with all the justification they need. Karl du Fresne is a freelance journalist living in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand. Source: Cath News www.cathnews.co.nz

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