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Human Rights and Abortion Without Parental Permission

Whose rights are being attended to when a school counsellor can arrange and abortion for a 14 year old girl without parental permission?

Obviously there is a conflict between the rights of the child and the rights of the parent. Presently the law says that a school can make arrangements for a child of 14, or 12 for that matter, to have an abortion without the parents' permission. But the school cannot give that same child an aspirin without parental approval.

The immediate reason why abortion exists as a right for the child without parent notification and the giving of an aspirin, does not, has its origin in the influence of gender feminist ideology. Choice is the primary feminist imperative. That doctrine of choice has in this case, overridden the child's right to protection, because the law has been shaped around feminist ideology rather than around the best interests of the child or the rights of parents.

Both those interests and rights are trivialised by the child's alleged right to private choice.

What is going on here? How do we weigh up the rights of the child against those of the parent?
Obviously there must be an ethic superior to that of human rights otherwise the victory will simply go to the strongest or the group that lobbies the loudest.

A philosophy of the person must be assumed and accepted. An individual is, in fact, a person because he is a relational being who lives in relationship with others. There must be "common ground" where people can come together, face each other and share values and truths accepted by all.

This common ground is tantamount to an objective criterion, a truth which stands above everything and everyone else. It is not mere consensus. It exists at the same time for the good of all. Acceptance of this truth is a necessary condition for an intelligible understanding of human rights.

Exclusive concern for the individual, his/her intentions and preferences, without sufficient attention to the objective reality, is nothing more than an arbitrary acceptance of individual autonomy which becomes a primary value.

To overvalue the autonomy of the individual will mean that we will overestimate, in this case, the child's freedom of choice. In that overestimation we have failed to appreciate that freedom of choice is always conditioned by the individual's need to find maturity in community and, in this case, it is the growing maturity of the child within her family.

We simply do not permit the child to enjoy her childhood. We abandon the child to her "rights." It is precisely this totally individualistic approach to domestic relationships that must be taken with the utmost seriousness. When we touch on the relationship between parent and child we are not dealing with just any relationship but one that has a unique social dimension.

Parenting, like marriage, is a fundamental principle in society; education in a state or private school gains its authority from the parent not from the state. The essential problem that faces us when human rights become absolute is that the very vocabulary of right and wrong, good and bad even justice and injustice becomes obsolete, for all practical purposes, because these words have fewer and fewer points of reference.
Maxim Institute
November 2000

A wider picture
In America an overwhelming 80% of Americans support parental notification. The fight against parental notification, driven by lobby groups such as NARAL, and the nation's largest abortion provider Planned Parenthood would appear to be less about 'choice' and women's rights than about money. Read here

Abortion opponents in New Zealand point out that although those who promote the right to abortion in New Zealand and oppose the parental notification of minors do not profit from the abortions directly, they do profit in other ways.

When the abortion statistics are released each year, and the number of schoolage girls having abortions is publicly decried, abortion rights advocates call for greater funding for more sex education. Sex education, opponents point out, that is provided by those who help underage girls to get abortions.

"When in doubt," they say, "follow the money."