Monday, 23 May 2011

The support we choose.

Cross posted from my usual spot...

The case of children /young women using their school councillors as a resource to source options for an unwanted pregnancy has had a lot of time in the media. One of the trends in comments from pro-choice and pro “support in schools for all options” has been the concept that teens use the school because home is not a safe environment.
I balked at that, because my own experience of using school support networks was in preference to admitting to my parents that I was not coping. It was my first experience with depression and the first thing the councillor did was hold my hand while I called my mother and admitted I couldn’t do this alone.
I still count my blessings that my parents’ response was one of support, and my family stood by me while I made decisions around staying in school or not, remaining a prefect or not, continuing competitive activities or not.
So while I realise that many, many young people struggle to find safe places and supportive people in their lives, withholding information is not necessarily a sign of dysfunction or abuse.

So when we discuss children requiring the notification of parents before accessing an abortion I have to ask...
If it is so the parents can have a say, then no. No, no, NO!
I say no for so many reasons, and most of them have been expressed beautifully elsewhere.

Take a peek at Boganette

Or Anthea

Or Luddite journo

Or Ideologically impure

Or over on life is a feminist issue

There is a lot of murmur on the blogosphere around this topic and I don’t need to rehash it.

The other logical (and not unreasonable) reason is that young people going through an experience like pregnancy/ abortion/ adoption should have support.
This I support, but not in the form of “concern trolling” where people act like they are being concerned about someone’s well being in order to maintain control (would any one like to quote some patronising pro-slavery quotes here?).

If taken at face value the key element of support can be provided by any adult in a child’s life.
I’m a support to several young people who are family friends and I really hope that they would feel safe and free from risk of judgement if they came to me.

So why not require an adult (by all means legislate the age if needed) chosen BY THE YOUNG PERSON to be notified? (Not the sexual partner of the youth if under age).
This seems to fulfil all the needs of the group.
The young person is able to access all healthcare options available.
They have a support person to assist them through the process.
There is an adult in this process.

There are SO MANY massive issues with this.
Young people may not choose the most ‘responsible’ person around.
That person may not have the young person’s best interests at heart.
That person may be involved in the relationship that led to the pregnancy.
The person may be covering for a rape that occurred.
The person may use their influence to pressure the youth to make a decision that the youth is not fully comfortable with.

Like I said; a lot of issues.
The problem is that all of the above issues apply to parents as well.

So we are back to square one...

Anyone got any good ideas?


Amnion said...

My good idea is that we keep the young woman concerned the centre of the focus here. Not their parents.

At the coalface our job is to support the people who seek our help the way they need us to support them. Of course we encourage young women to involve their parents. But the choice to do so or not is theirs. This is supported in law.

And that is as it should be

katy said...

"So while I realise that many, many young people struggle to find safe places and supportive people in their lives, withholding information is not necessarily a sign of dysfunction or abuse."

I totally agree with this. It is a shame that some of the discussion around this almost sounded like it is shaming parents if their children want to seek the advice of other adults.

Boganette said...

I still can't even figure out why this was even a story but I'm thrilled so many people have blogged about it (thanks Scube, QoT, LJ, Anthea & Julie) and expressed outrage because we have to keep a close eye on this and make sure nothing stupid happens - like the law being changed.

Young people have a right to privacy. And it's pretty obvious that if a young person chooses not to involve their parent or guardian in health decisions that doesn't mean their parent or guardian is a 'bad' person who needs to be 'shamed' or that their parents are abusing them.

But I have talked about the woman who talked about her daughter's abortion to a newspaper. Because I think it's shitty to do that to your daughter. I think it's shitty to be so focused on yourself when your daughter needs your support. I think it's shitty to go behind your daughter's back and talk to her friends and try to get information out of them when she has chosen not to tell you something. To me that shows a complete lack of respect and trust.

From what I've seen the criticism of parents has been aimed at parents who view their daughters as property, don't trust them or respect them and parents who care more about themselves and their need to be filled in on every single detail of their daughter's private life than their daughter's health and safety.

I think that kind of criticism aimed at the parents I've described is perfectly valid.

It's tiring that throughout this entire debate people still need to be repeatedly reminded that this is actually about young people. Young people who have a right to privacy and a right to decide whether or not they want to be pregnant. The mother who contacted the paper, Family First, Bill English, Judith Collins, and all these screeching parents saying 'but what about me and my feelings?' etc - they all seem to forget it's not about them and their need to be recognised as dominant all powerful forces in the lives of young people.