Parental notification and consent: A study of young women attending a UK abortion clinic


Parental notification and consent: A study of young women

attending a UK abortion clinic

S. Robotham, L. Lee-Jones, L. Davies

Marie Stopes International, UK

Introduction: Proposed challenges to the current UK law

suggest that young women under 16 years of age should not be permitted to have

an abortion without parental consent.

Aims and Methods: A pre-coded self completion

questionnaire was administered to young women aged 18 years and under. The

research was carried out across nine Maries Stopes International abortion

clinics across the UK. Aims were to determine who young people notified about

abortion and to understand why parents were not informed, if that was the case.

The study also explored views surrounding parental permission as a compulsory

requirement for termination in the under 16s.

Results: Results are presented for the under 16s only.

Approximately half of young women surveyed told their mother and one third told

their father about the abortion. Approximately half told boyfriends and not one

young person told ‘no-one’. Parents who were informed were generally

supportive about the planned abortion. Young women who did not tell their

parents were fearful of a negative reaction such as anger, shame and

disappointment or wanted to keep it private. If forced by law, most young women

report that they would tell their parents in order to seek parental permission

for abortion, however a small minority report that this would have very negative

consequences such as harming themselves or the foetus and being forced to have

an unwanted child at a very young age.

Discussion: Young women, especially those aged under 16

years, are not unsupported in the abortion process. For many young people

support of a parent is important, but others prefer to seek support elsewhere.

Those who do not inform their parents have very valid reasons for not doing so.

A change to the current UK law would create very difficult and unhappy

situations for young women.

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