Abortion and parents

Sue Axon, the mother arguing that she has a right to know if an underage daughter has an abortion, has lost her case (http://www.guardian.co.uk/medicine/story/0,,1693518,00.html). There’s a good piece on this by Anne Karpf in the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/family/story/0,,1696263,00.html). She is pro-choice, but admits how difficult the dilemma is. Parents are being expected to take responsibility for their children, and yet they can be excluded from such a key decision. Sue Axon’s attempt to create legal rights for parents doesn’t seem the right way to deal with the situation, but the current position does leave a lot of responsibility on the health professionals to deal with difficult family situations.


4 thoughts on “Abortion and parents

  1. I have thought about this as the original case last year – of a 15 year old having an abortion without her mother’s knowlege – happened in the town where I’m currently living and was handled less than sensitively by the local press.

    As it happens I am rather anti ‘Choice’, and sometimes wonder whether it’s a misnomer. I worked in a hospital and saw young girls practically signed up for ‘termination’ as though it was the most natural thing in the world.

    I think the danger is that most people who deal with these situations fall into one camp or the other and meanwhile the clock is ticking.


  2. I suspect that the girls who signed up for abortions were often those with parents who had more ambition for their daughter’s future. Studies that have been done on teenage pregnancy suggest that the very different rates by social class/region etc are due to the fact that middle class girls who ‘fall’ pregnant are much more likely to have abortions than working class ones.

    The problem is that having a baby at 15 is likely to condemn mother and child to a second class existence for life. Most 15 year olds won’t have the maturity to provide an enriching upbringing to a child in the crucial early years. Meanwhile, for the girl herself, it becomes extremely difficult to get a good education, whether at school or later. It’s hard enough to get back on the educational ladder if you step off it early, let alone if you have to worry about childcare.

    In theory, it would be possible to have more schemes for helping teenage mothers, both with their child-rearing and their education, that could remedy some of these problems. But such programmes are likely to remain patchy and not just because they’re expensive. The ‘pro-life’ lobby, which should in theory support anything that encourages women to continue their pregnancies tends also to be marked by a moralistic view that doesn’t want to ‘reward’ those who have been improvident. Any government that provides more help for teenage mothers is sure to be accused of encouraging permissiveness.


  3. Having a baby at 15 may demonstrably ‘condemn mother and child to a second class existence for life’ but what of the effects of abortion?

    The child has no existence at all and the effect on the mother may be profound. Even if she then gets a good education, a brilliant career and more children she may come to feel these have been purchased at the expense of a potential life. I don’t think women easily forget the children they give up.

    Government help for teenage mothers may be seen as encouraging permissiveness but the message that they can solve the problem by a termination hardly shows respect for the sanctity of life.


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