School helped girl, 14, have secret abortion

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A school helped organise an abortion for a 14-year-old pupil without telling her family, her mother claimed yesterday. The girl, at a school in Nottinghamshire, had the termination after being counselled by outreach workers from the city's teenage pregnancy service.

A school helped organise an abortion for a 14-year-old pupil without telling her family, her mother claimed yesterday. The girl, at a school in Nottinghamshire, had the termination after being counselled by outreach workers from the city's teenage pregnancy service.

The family, which does not wish to be identified, found out what had happened only when a schoolfriend let the news slip.

"I am appalled that the confidentiality law means we did not have to be informed," the mother said. "I didn't even know my daughter was pregnant."

School chiefs and health bosses insisted the girl had received total support from them and would continue to do so when she has recovered and returns to school. But the girl's mother said: "I am devastated that this has happened without me being at my daughter's side. She needed her mother with her. She is just a kid."

The mother, who has one other child, said she was told only after her daughter had been to Kings Mill Hospital in nearby Sutton in Ashfield, and been given a tablet to start the termination.

"If something had gone wrong during the termination process who would they have called for then? Me, her mother, of course. I had to contact the school about it but no one contacted me, least of all the woman who advised my daughter to go through with it."

An information letter about the school's Community Child Health Service sent to parents says: "Parental care for an individual consultation is not required other than in rare circumstances when a young person is judged not to be sufficiently mature to take part independently." The school's deputy headteacher said the confidential service meant parents could be informed only with the girl's consent.

The conflict between the rights of parents and the rights of children has been source of tension in the area of teenage sex. The matter was settled by the 1985 decision of the Law Lords in the case of Victoria Gillick, who said it was her right to prevent doctors from prescribing the contraceptive pill to her daughters under 16 without her consent. The law lords rejected her claim saying the crucial question was what was in the best interests of the child. That principle was enshrined in the Children's Act, 1991.

The girl's mother said: "If that's the case, the law needs to be changed to ensure the family is always involved and kept well informed."

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