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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > Gender: Female -

Mother loses test case on under-16 abortions

Gender: FemaleJan 23, 06

Girls under the age of 16 can have an abortion without their parents’ consent, the High Court ruled on Monday after a test case by a mother of two teenagers.

Susan Axon, 52, from Manchester, went to court in November to contest a law that allows girls under 16 to receive advice on abortion and sexual health in confidence.

Had she won, doctors would have been obliged to notify parents before they provided information or treatment on any sexual health matter including abortion.

The country’s leading sexual health charity welcomed the decision and said any change in the rules would have been a disaster.

Justice Silber said he believed a previous ruling which allowed doctors to give advice to under 16s in confidence had been lawful and he would therefore not change it.

“If a young girl is deterred because of the lack of confidentiality from seeking advice from a doctor on a possible abortion, she might, by so doing, make a decision that she later regrets or she might seek the assistance of an unqualified abortionist,” the judge said. Axon, who has five children including two teenage daughters, said she took the action after having an abortion herself 20 years ago.

She said she suffered from guilt, shame and depression for many years afterwards and “to this day…regrets having undergone it”.

“I am obviously disappointed by the judgement of the court today,” she said in a statement.

“Having endured the trauma of abortion I brought the case to ensure that medical professionals would not carry out an abortion on one of my daughters without first informing me.”

The Family Planning Association (FPA) had campaigned against Axon’s appeal, saying any change in the rules would deter young girls from seeking help on sexual health matters.

“Confidentiality is the single most important factor in a young person’s decision to visit a health service,” FPA Chief Executive Anne Weyman said in a statement.

“Compulsory parental notification of their visit would have been a disaster, leading to young people staying away from services and risking unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.

“The needs and rights of those under 16s who lack parental support or who choose not to involve their family in decisions about their sexual health have been safeguarded today.”

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