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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 November 2005, 15:10 GMT
Mother begins 'right to know' bid
Sue Axon
Sue Axon believes parents have a right to be told
A mother has launched a legal challenge to guidelines allowing girls to have abortions without parental consent.

Sue Axon, of Baguley, Manchester, wants parents to be told if a girl under the age of 16 is referred for an abortion.

The High Court was told that Mrs Axon, 50, regretted undergoing a termination herself 20 years ago which caused her "guilt, shame and depression".

The Department of Health rules are undergoing a judicial review at a hearing in London.

Current guidelines state that terminations can take place without parents' consent and doctors should respect girls' privacy.

It is incongruous to me that I am required to have to consent to my daughter having her belly button pierced while she can have an abortion without me even knowing
Sue Axon

Philip Havers QC told Mr Justice Silber the case raised the important question of whether the parents of a young girl are entitled to be told about treatment before it is provided.

He said Mrs Axon, who has five children, "does not say that doctors cannot provide such advice or carry out such treatment without the parents' consent.

"Her contention is much more modest. She merely says that as a matter of law she has the right to be notified - in shorthand, the case is about 'the right to know'."

Mr Havers said Mrs Axon believed that a parent should be involved in "helping her daughters in their early teenage years to make wise decisions as to matters such as contraception, and, if it came to it, abortion".

The current guidelines infringed her parental rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, he told the judge.

In a statement before the judge, Mrs Axon - who has two teenage daughters - spoke of the help children needed during the "tumultuous teenage years".

Human rights

"It is incongruous to me that I am required to have to consent to my daughter having her belly button pierced while she can have an abortion without me even knowing."

Mrs Axon said she believed parents should be involved because "difficult discussions strengthen family life".

This is a delicate matter but parents do not own their children or have rights over them
Emma Richards, UK

The consequences of the decisions made with regard to abortion also "stay with you for the rest of your life", she added.

The current guidance was "simply wrong" to state that the duty of confidentiality to an under-16 was the same as that of an adult, Mr Havers told the judge.

He said a child was in "a very different position" from an adult and was almost always in the care of parents with obligations to their welfare.

It was "not in the public interest" that parents should be prevented from fulfilling those obligations because crucial information was kept from them, Mr Havers said.

The guidance deprived parents of the opportunity to advise their children and the child herself of the benefit of such advice, he added.

Mr Havers argued that this was "a plain interference" with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which protected the right to family life.

The hearing continues.

See why Sue Axon demands to know if her daughter has an abortion

Should parents be told if under-16s are referred for an abortion?
6930 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

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