Petition aims to give parents more input into children’s sexual health
A Timaru petition against schools organising birth control and abortions for girls under 16 without parental consent garnered 30 signatures in 90 minutes.
“Every person who signed the petition was not aware of this,” concerned Timaru parent Rachel Tomkinson said.
“All the parents that I met love their kids and want to be involved.”
Tomkinson hit Stafford St with her petition Pro Parents Choice for the first time on Thursday, appalled that she did not know girls could secretly get contraceptive medication or an abortion through their school until her daughter Renee, 15, got the Depo Provera injection.
Renee felt driven to tell her mother about the shot after her period lasted two weeks, and wanted her story to accompany the petition, Tomkinson said.
“They injected the wrong child and I’m not afraid to show my face.”
Tomkinson wanted the law to change so it was mandatory for schools to contact parents before a child could get this type of aid.
“You have to get consent to get on the bus but not for an abortion.”
For girls with an unhappy home life and fearful of their parent’s reaction, a school could act as a mediator but that was where its input should end, she said.
Tomkinson, who has contacted Opposition leader Simon Bridges and Health Minister David Clark and is awaiting a response, aims to collect at least 1000 signatures and send a reminder to the government for every 200.
“I will keep pushing this.
“I’ll be that squeaky wheel that never gives up.”
Ministry of Education sector enablement and support deputy secretary Katrina Casey said boards of trustees were “responsible for providing a safe physical and emotional environments for their students” and supported a young person’s right to confidentiality under the Health Act and the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act of 1977″.
Casey said secondary schools gave young people the tools to make decisions about their sexual health through the country’s health and physical education curriculum.
“All young people need access to information and opportunities to think about, question, and discuss issues related to relationships, gender, sexual identities, sexual orientation, sexual behaviour, and societal messages,” she said.
Ministry of Health child and youth health chief advisor Dr Pat Tuohy said “society generally accepts the rights of children as they mature to be involved in and increasingly make decisions about their own health”.
Tuohy said when counselling a young person seeking contraception or an abortion, normally a health professional would involve someone the young person trusted such as a parent or other adult.
Neither the Ministry of Education or Ministry of Health were aware of Tomkinson’s campaign.