Sunday Star Times
Schools are helping teenage girls keep abortions secret from their parents. Imogen Neale reports.
A MOTHER is angry her 16-year-old daughter had a secret abortion arranged by a school counsellor.
Helen, not her real name, found out about the termination four days after it had happened. “I was horrified. Horrified that she’d had to go through that on her own, and horrified her friends and counsellors had felt that she shouldn’t talk to us,” she said.
She had suspected something was wrong, but her daughter insisted her tears were over everyday teenage dramas.
But Helen confronted her daughter’s friends, who said the counsellor had taken the girl for a scan and to doctors. “I didn’t know that they could do that.”
Helen said teachers could discuss how a student was doing in school or phone parents when their child misbehaved, but would then keep life-changing situations such as abortions secret.
Her daughter had since told her the counsellor “wasn’t very forthcoming” with advice. The counsellor did ask the girl if she had talked to her parents, but never pursued it.
Helen said follow-up counselling for her daughter was “nonexistent”. She concedes patient confidentiality is a tricky issue and said her child feared she’d be disowned. “She’s come to realise that’s not the case. But if you’re responsible for them, surely you should be told.”
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