Parliament considering petition on abortion law changes

Taranaki mother Hillary Kieft is seeking a change to the law that allows teenagers to have abortions without their ...
CATHERINE GROENESTEIN/FAIRFAX NZ

Taranaki mother Hillary Kieft is seeking a change to the law that allows teenagers to have abortions without their parents' knowledge. Whanganui MP Chester Borrows presented the petition to Parliament.

A Taranaki mother who has endured years of sleepless nights fearing her teenage daughter was taking her own life is calling for abortion law changes. 

Hillary Kieft, of Stratford, struggled at times to keep her composure in the Justice and Electoral select committee on Thursday where she was speaking to her petition.

She's asking to give parents assurance they would be notified before daughters under the age of 16 were referred for an abortion.

Kieft's daughter, then 15, was taken for an abortion in Hawera in 2010 that was arranged by her school and was dropped home to her parents where they were told she had been to a counselling appointment.

A year later their daughter attempted suicide and it was only then that she confided she had been taken to a Family Planning clinic for an abortion and had not received any follow-up counselling or medical treatment.

"There were times when me and my husband were afraid to go to sleep because we were not sure what we were going to wake up to and whether we'd wake up to a child who was deceased. That was our life everyday," Kieft said.

At times a psychology team were called in to help with her deteriorating mental state but still Kieft and her husband, Peter, were not told what had triggered the sudden change in behaviour.

"Since that day, six years later, there has still been no follow up. She was dumped off that day with no counselling, absolutely nothing."

Kieft said as a result of the abortion her daughter is now infertile and still takes medication every day to deal with her depression.

"She 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."

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Kieft with the support of Whanganui MP Chester Borrows, who signed and delivered the petition to Parliament, is also calling for "fully informed consent" from those having an abortion.

"Abortion was the only option given to our daughter - she was told it was easier to complete NCEA without a baby."

At the age of 16 Kieft said she too had an abortion and never told her parents because of the shame of it and she felt she had "failed" her own daughter by not telling her of her own experience.

Abortion Supervisory Committee representative Linda Holloway also spoke to the petition and told MPs she was concerned a law change would "prompt an increase in unsafe abortions".

"There are some parts of our country, even with loving families, where a girl doesn't feel able to have a child or have an abortion. There are consequences whether you have a child or you don't."

She said the majority of woman aged 15 and under who have an abortion, of which there were 150 in 2014, already involved their parents in the process.

Borrows said both Labour and the Greens had indicated they didn't want a law change and if he failed to convince Justice Minister Amy Adams of the need for change he would consider drafting a member's bill.

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox is calling for better auditing and record-keeping about how many children commit suicide following an abortion, how many notify their parents before an abortion and how many receive counselling through the process.

 - Stuff

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