Abortion in Australia remains a subject of state law rather than national law. In all states and territories, except in Western Australia, a minor does not require parental consent or notification. A minor under 18, living in Western Australia, needs parental consent.
The reason surrounding the policy, that a child does not require parental consent for an abortion, is based on ideology rather than consideration for the child’s welfare.
Ironically, children are not allowed to have body piercings or tattoos, or even leave the school grounds, without parental consent. Yet, an abortion is a much more invasive procedure than having body piercings or tattoos, and it is far more serious than going on a school excursion.
In addition to this, children are not aware, nor can they fully understand, the physical, psychological and emotional consequences of abortion.
In South Australia and in other states, social workers and counsellors linked to teen hostels, drop-in centres and education institutions, have arranged and transported pregnant teenage girls to abortion clinics without their parents’ knowledge. As one former youth hostel caretaker remarked:
I couldn’t believe it. The social workers were quite secretive when they took one of the girls away to have her second abortion. She was only 15. They said they didn’t tell me at the time because I might have tried to talk her out of it. They didn’t think it necessary to contact the girl’s mother either. 1
On a similar note, despite protests from many parents and health professionals, the state government funds SHine SA (a private sexual health organisation) to facilitate and provide material for sex education across the state. SHine SA has published a teachers’ resource called Teach it like it is (for students aged 11-15), which tells where abortions are available and the age children can have an abortion without parental consent. 2
Criticism has been directed at SHine SA because of their use of euphemisms throughout the resource. Such as, for a question like, “What actually happens during an abortion?” The Teach it like it is resource trivialises the abortion procedure; particularly what happens to the unborn baby, by saying:
Abortions are carried out under a general anaesthetic or local anaesthetic. A tube is gently inserted into the uterus, suction is used to remove content of the uterus. 3
(To see how dishonest this remark ‘contents of the uterus’ is, see site’s Photographic Evidence )
Furthermore, the Teach it like it is resource has short-listed South Australia’s largest abortion clinic, the Pregnancy Advisory Centre (surely a euphemism, when around 2,800 – 3,000 abortions are carried out there every year), as a key “health service” that children may want to know about “…if they need professional, confidential and anonymous support”. 4
It also states the Pregnancy Advisory Centre provides health services (eg counselling, pregnancy testing and abortion services) free for those facing an unplanned pregnancy. 5
Now remember, this information is designed for students aged between 11 and 15.
We must ask, “How many parents have given their consent for this information to be provided to their children by the state education department?”
Critics of SHine SA and similar ‘sexual health organisations’ have argued that this sort of information is like giving a child a loaded gun. Not only is it providing children with age inappropriate, misleading and biased information, but serves to undermine parents’ authority and supervisory role over their children – potentially affecting their children’s physical and emotional well-being for life.
1 Comments supplied to Red&WhiteRibbon.org are verified.
2 SHine SA, Teach it like it is, 2004, p154
4 Ibid, p220
5 Ibid, p221