21 February 2019 – Lord Alton of Liverpool has joined calls for Parliament to introduce new parental notification legislation after the public took to social media shocked that children can get a secret abortion without their parent’s knowledge.
Heartbreaking scenes in last night’s episode of Coronation Street saw young schoolgirl Amy Barlow, aged just 14, have an abortion in secret without her parent’s knowledge.
Baffled viewers believed the error was made by Coronation Street’s plot writers as they questioned the legality of whether a minor could have an abortion procedure without parental consent or involvement.
The public took to twitter and social media to express their confusion and shock at how an underaged schoolgirl could undergo an abortion without her parent’s knowledge.
The plotline, however, brought to light the fact that underage girls can have an abortion in the UK without parental involvement, and that parents have no legal right to be informed or consulted about their child’s abortion.
A report from Care Quality Commission published in 2017 found that in some Marie Stopes International abortion clinics, parents, partners or friends of pregnant women who might persuade them to think again about the termination were “seen as an inconvenience” and that “their presence was strongly discouraged”. Inspectors also raised concerns in the report that girls under the age of 16 were having abortions “without being made fully aware of the consequences and risks”.
The introduction of parental notification legislation would bring the UK in line with a number of other European countries, including the Netherlands, Italy and Spain, which require parents to be involved if a child proceeds with an abortion.
Crossbench peer, Lord Alton of Liverpool, said:
“As a parent myself I can understand why parents around the country have been shocked to learn that their child can be taken away to an abortion clinic for a secret abortion without parents being involved.
Polling shows a large majority of parents want a law change on this. It’s now time for Parliament to begin steps to introduce a parental notification law that will ensure that parents are involved in what can be one of the biggest decisions of their child’s lives.”
Right To Life UK spokesperson, Clare McCarthy, said:
“The secret abortion plotline has served to raise public concern in relation to the safety of a young 14-year-old schoolgirl in the hands of the abortion industry and her ability to consent.
“The abortion industry cannot be trusted to take the place of parents to know what is in the best interests of their child. As we have seen from CQC reports, abortion facilities have been found to have a vested interest in girls undergoing abortions.
“Coronation Street viewers were left rightly shocked at this unbelievable reality in the UK which highlights the lack of legal protections in place to protect vulnerable girls, under the age of consent, and the fact that parents have no legal right to be informed or consulted about their child’s abortion.
“This also highlights the ridiculous scenario here in the UK where a girl aged under 16 needs parental consent to take a paracetamol pill at school but does not need any parental consent for her school nurse to take her off to an abortion clinic to terminate her pregnancy.
“A ComRes poll, conducted in 2017, showed that 70% of parents agree that parental or guardian consent should be required for girls aged 15 or under to undergo an abortion.
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- Further information on the Care Quality Commission investigation of Maries Stopes International is available here: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/abortions-marie-stopes-clinic-bonuses-persuade-women-investigation-a8012171.html
- The law, as established in the Gillick case, does not make it generally lawful for children under 16 to have an abortion without parental knowledge. It only makes it lawful if that particular child is able to give proper lawful consent. To perform an abortion on the word of a child who was not competent to give informed consent (for example not in a position fully to understand the implications) remains a battery/assault by the practitioner involved. Unfortunately, in practice, this allows for a situation where children under 16 can have an abortion without parental knowledge.
- ComRes interviewed 2,008 GB adults online between 12th and 14th May 2017. Data were weighted by age, gender, region and socio-economic grade to be demographically representative of all GB adults.
- For further results from ComRes poll visit https://wheredotheystand.org.uk/
- Examples of tweets from public regarding this issue: