28 May 2015

Law change sought on under-16 abortions

6:43 am on 28 May 2015

National MP Chester Borrows has presented a petition to Parliament asking it to change the law so parents are informed if their under-age child seeks an abortion.

Courts minister Chester Borrows at the opening of Oamaru's temporary courthouse.

Chester Borrows is seeking changes to the Care of Children Act. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

National MP Chester Borrows has presented a petition to Parliament, which will now go through select committee, asking for an amendment to the Care of Children Act.

The petition was prompted by the experience of the Kieft family in Stratford in 2009.

Hilary Kieft said her daughter, who was 15 at the time, had an abortion without the family's knowledge and any support.

She said the teenager then struggled with depression and attempted suicide a year after the termination.

"We should have the right to be there to support our child. It's been hell, honestly, and my daughter, today, is still carrying that burden. She is still trying to deal with what she went through. You know, she regrets it. She was just a young girl."

Six years later, Mrs Kieft said she did not want other families to go through the pain and suffering her family had endured.

Her daughter was in full support of the petition, she said.

The family's local MP, Mr Borrows, said parents had a right to know.

"This isn't pro- or anti-abortion. This is about a parent's right to be informed and informed consent and people who are pro-life and pro-choice can sign it equally and I think they will."

Mr Borrows said he believed the vast majority of families would support their children.

"For those families where abuse or incest is a threat or the cause of the pregnancy then we have got all the agencies to deal with that - what we haven't got is sunlight and transparency on these issues to make sure that those agencies step up and do the job we we pay them to do."

Jacinda Ardern.

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern. Photo: LABOUR PARTY

However Labour's spokesperson for Justice Jacinda Ardern said the law should remain the way it was.

"There is a minority of young people for whom there may be instances of sexual abuse or even incest or it may just be a dangerous thing to disclose to their family, and that's who the law is there to protect."

In order for the changes to be made Mr Borrows would have to get enough support from his caucus and the Minister responsible, Justice Minister Amy Adams, for an amendment to be made.

Ms Adams is making little comment at this stage, except to say the petition has gone to select committee.

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