Parents helpless in face of teen privacy laws

Printed from:

NEW ZEALAND – A young woman’s heartbreaking story of her secret abortion and resultant infertility reveals what can happen when schools refuse to inform parents about the reproductive health issues of their under-aged daughters.

Hillary Kieft didn’t know that her 15-year-old daughter had become pregnant or had an abortion until the distraught teen attempted suicide, the Daily Signal reports. On the day in question, Kieft’s daughter had her school nurse accompany her to an abortion clinic, and then deceive her mother by telling her that the teen had stayed late for an after-school counseling session.

Kieft had no reason to doubt the nurse’s explanation, and only discovered the truth when her now infertile daughter spiraled into depression and self-harm. Outraged and heartbroken, Kieft brought her case before New Zealand’s parliament in hopes of changing the country’s parental notification laws. Her appeal was denied.

The Kieft family’s pain is undeniable. Their story may have occurred oceans away, but their circumstances are not foreign to parents in the United States. Only 26 U.S. states require parental consent for a minor to procure an abortion, although an additional 12 do require some form of notification. Alaska is the latest to join those that do not require any form of notification, after a recent Planned Parenthood lawsuit succeeded in having state parental notifications laws scrubbed from the books.

Massachusetts law currently protects parental rights to consent before their child may have an abortion. However, in a 1997 case, once again involving Planned Parenthood, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decided that one-parent consent is sufficient and that requiring both parents’ consent constitutes an “unconstitutional burden” on a minor’s right to choose. Massachusetts also provides a “judicial bypass” which allows a minor to be excused from parental consent by a sitting judge.

In speaking out about their situation, Hillary Kieft said of the New Zealand law and of the school’s complicit deceit: “[My daughter] was denied the support of her family and we were robbed of the ability to properly support and help our child. We also lost a grandchild.”