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Change to abortion laws may 'put teens at higher risk'

24 Jun 2015 1:47 PM | Janine Ryland

click here to see the NZ Herald Article

Making it law for parents to be informed of teenage girls having abortions would put some girls - and their partners - at risk of serious harm and could lead to girls trying to terminate pregnancies themselves, says a Rotorua doctor.

Rotovegas Youth Health clinical leader Dr Tania Pinfold said she believed a petition for a law change to make sure parents of under-16 year olds were informed their daughter was having a termination would have negative consequences in some cases.

She said there were few school-aged girls having terminations in the Rotorua area and the number had reduced by 25 per cent in the past four years.

"Almost always, a family member is involved in supporting a young person who is considering termination of pregnancy," Dr Pinfold said. "Doctors and nurses work very hard to have this happen, with the consent and participation of the pregnant girl."

She said legislation "demanding" that parents be informed could lead to the risk of serious harm, from the family in some cases.

"If parents had to be informed, girls could avoid telling anyone of the pregnancy for as long as possible, or could undertake risky actions to try and terminate the pregnancy themselves."

Dr Pinfold said there was no perfect answer for all cases.

The petition for a law change was launched by Taranaki mother Hillary Kieft, whose teenage daughter was taken to another town for an abortion without her knowledge several years ago.

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