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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 May, 2004, 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK
Mother angry at secret abortion
A mother whose 14-year-old daughter had an abortion without her knowledge
Mrs Smith "felt like someone had punched me in the stomach"
A mother whose 14-year-old daughter had an abortion without her knowledge has criticised the law.

Nottinghamshire schoolgirl Melissa Smith fell pregnant last month and after talking to a school health worker she decided to have a termination.

Within days her mother found out what was happening, and the teenager changed her mind but by then it was too late.

A local education authority spokeswoman said teachers were not legally bound to tell parents if pupils became pregnant.

The mother, Maureen Smith, told BBC News her daughter had been too afraid to say she wanted to keep the baby until had they talked.

"She was frightened. She felt she had let me down - but when she realised the support she would have got, she changed her mind."

Once Mrs Smith found out about the pregnancy she talked to her daughter and brought the child's father and his mother into the discussion.

It took my rights away as a mother completely
Mrs Smith

They decided to keep the baby and contacted the local hospital, as Melissa had only taken the first of two pills as part of a chemical abortion.

At first they were told the foetus would not be affected, but the next day they discovered it would be.

"They said, 'It is too late - it has already starved the baby of oxygen. She will have to come in for the procedure or she will miscarry anyway in three or four weeks.' She was quite upset," Mrs Smith told BBC News.

She did not believe in abortion - but her daughter had been talked into having one, she said.

And the school had not told her the full details about her daughter's circumstances, Mrs Smith added.

Hospital scan

"They rang up and said, 'Why is your daughter not in school?' I said, 'She is in school.' And they said, 'She is not.'

"So I rang her mobile - but it was switched off.

"They rang up an hour later and said, 'Sorry, it was a mistake - she is in school.'"

If the school was obliged to tell parents, then it could stop many teenagers from seeking help
Matt Smith, Lancaster

But Mrs Smith later found out her daughter had not been in school - she had been at the hospital having a scan.

As soon as she found out about the pregnancy, she contacted the school again.

"They said, 'The person you need to speak to will call you back in 10 minutes, when we get hold of them.'

"An hour went by, so I phoned them back.

"She said, 'Right, the person you need to speak to has actually just gone into a meeting, and could be quite a while.'

Abortion pill

"I tried to contact my daughter on her mobile phone - but it was switched off.

"What I didn't realise was she was up at the hospital having the abortion pill - it was too late."

When Mrs Smith found out, she "felt like someone had punched me in the stomach".

"I did not know what to do," she told BBC News.

"I was in total shock - I could not believe it.

"It took my rights away as a mother completely."

But a local education authority spokeswoman said: "Teachers are not legally bound to inform parents if any young person tells a member of staff that she is pregnant.

"If there is to be any disclosure the teachers should seek consent from that pupil they are working with."

The BBC's Peter Lane
"Maureen Smith... is calling for the law to be changed"

Maureen Smith
"I was in total shock"



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