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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 November 2005, 09:13 GMT
Mother seeks abortion rule change
Sue Axon
Sue Axon believes parents have a right to be told
A mother's legal challenge to guidelines allowing girls to have abortions without parental consent returns to the High Court on Tuesday.

Sue Axon, 50, wants parents to be informed if a girl under the age of 16 is referred for an abortion.

Mrs Axon, of Baguley, Manchester, who has two teenage daughters, says she regrets having an abortion herself 20 years ago.

The Department of Health rules are undergoing a judicial review.

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

We have got a very, very strong case that government strategies are damaging children
Sue Axon

"The Department of Health seems to assume that every parent in Britain is a bad parent and will not support their child if they get themselves in a mess," she said.

"[But] I am feeling dead confident, I really do believe that they will have to alter the law," said Mrs Axon.

"We have got overwhelming evidence to prove that confidentiality encourages sexual activity.

"We have got a very, very strong case that government strategies are damaging children."

Mrs Axon said she had support from other parents but admitted her daughters, aged 16 and 13, had reservations.

"They're teenage girls and girls do believe that parents shouldn't know what they're up to.

'Emotionally suffered'

"We're all right, though, we're not at loggerheads with it."

Mrs Axon said she had regretted having an abortion when she was 30, saying it made her "physically very, very ill" and she had "emotionally suffered for about 10 years".

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

"If my daughter needs two paracetamol at school I have to give permission yet the Department of Health has issued this guidance that we parents don't need to know [about abortions]."

Anne Weyman, Chief Executive of the Family Planning Association, said: "This case seeks to compel health professionals to inform the parents of anyone aged under 16 that they have been approached by that young person for advice, information or treatment about any sexual health matter, not just abortion.

"Young people worry a great deal about confidentiality and it is the single most important factor in their decision to visit a health service."

'Unplanned pregnancies'

She added: "Compulsory parental notification of their visit will drive teenagers away from services and prevent many of them coming forward for help.

"This will only put them at greater risk of unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections, with potentially disastrous consequences to individuals, the public health and the NHS."

Victoria Gillick, who went to court in 1983 to try to stop doctors prescribing contraception to under-16s without parental consent, is supporting Mrs Axon.

"This policy is geared, as Sue Axon said, for every parent in the country," she said.

"Children are being told at school you can go to your school nurse and if you're pregnant, we'll actually take you to a hospital, put you on an operating table, you will be aborted, and sent home with nobody actually knowing what has happened to you."

Mrs Axon won the right to a judicial review at a High Court hearing in December 2004.

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

Q&A: Abortion challenge
08 Nov 05 |  Health
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Mother calls for abortion review
18 Oct 04 |  Manchester
Mother angry at secret abortion
13 May 04 |  Nottinghamshire
Should parents give consent to abortions?
17 May 04 |  Have Your Say
Abortion guidelines: Your views
03 Aug 04 |  Have Your Say


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