Monday, January 23, 2006

Mother loses 'right to know' case

A mother has lost her court battle for a parent's "right to know" if girls are being advised on abortion. Sue Axon, 51, of Baguley, Manchester, wanted the law changed to prevent girls under 16 getting confidential advice. Mrs Axon said she regretted having an abortion 20 years ago that caused her "guilt, shame and depression". But the High Court rejected a review of guidelines which state terminations do not need parents' consent and doctors should respect girls' confidentiality.

Presumably, advice translates to "how to get an abortion".

Respect "confidentiality". Disregard long-term health and welfare. After all, these are only doctors. What do they know? When compared to a High Court judge. They know it all, of course! Mr Justice Silber, sitting in London, said Mrs Axon, or any other parent, had no right to know unless the child decided otherwise. "Forcing a girl to tell her parents may lead her to make a decision that she later regrets or seek the assistance of an unofficial abortionist", he added.

A forced decision she later regrets by NOT having an abortion? Isn't that a rather perverse argument? Spin as they say.

But the judge also warned that abortions should not be made available if the young person lacked the maturity to understand all the advice they were given.

And how will that be assessed? A potential immaturity to understand the advice, but obviously mature enough to have the baby and look after it. Where do these people come from? The legal profession getting itself tied up in knots again. Painting itself into a corner. Then rig up a messier "get-out" from the mess.

Mrs Axon's QC Philip Havers had told Mr Justice Silber she did not say that doctors could not carry out treatment without parents' consent but that she had the right to be notified. Mrs Axon believes current guidelines "undermine" her role as a parent and infringe her parental rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Seems reasonable.


Philip Sales, appearing for the health secretary, had told the judge her arguments had "absolutely no foundation in law".

At a hearing in November, he said the UK had "a very serious problem" with high teenage pregnancy rates - and confidentiality was a key component of government policies to reduce conception rates and improve sexual health.

How does that work? I don't follow any logic there.

Smacks of sweeping under the carpet. Place in the shadows so the problem isn't seen. If the problem can't be seen, the problem doesn't exist! Right? It sweeps away the under-age sex and the legality issue. It reduces the number of births, mostly illegitimate, since they are aborted. It increases the numbers of damaged and traumatised young girls - doesn't effect young males in any such way: nothing to do with me guv! - and it fails absolutely to even attempt to control sexually transmitted diseases.

In fact, it does nothing less than makes a bad situation even worse.

That comment by Sales about "absolutely no foundation in law" is a very pompous and extremely unhelpful one. No surprises there - it comes from the health secretary's department. An assertion that has "absolutely no foundation in common sense".

I must be missing something else here: I always thought that the law defined statutory rape as sex under the age of 16. The morals of that does not enter the equation here. But this legal problem is always dodged. The fact that a child under 16 is pregnant defines the situation. This is not talking about parthenogenesis where sex isn't necessary to procreate. It takes two to tango! Under age sex is illegal, but no mention of this. The whole issue is very conveniently dodged.

The suggestion that children under 16 have the maturity to deal with this is based upon a really crappy (and dangerous) premise. A child of 16 or less is immature. By the definition of having lived for only less than 16 years. Not enough time to develop real maturity. Physically girls of around 10 years old or so can have babies. The maturity necessary to raise a child is somewhat older to be able to do this independently. It probably happens, but is very rare.

A physical maturity doesn't imply mental maturity.


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