Mother loses abortion 'right to know' case

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The Independent Online

A mother of two teenage daughters today lost her High Court battle for a parent's "right to know" if girls under 16 are being advised on obtaining an abortion.

Sue Axon, 52, a divorced single parent from Baguley, Wythenshawe, Manchester, suffered a legal defeat with implications for parents across the country.

She had an abortion 20 years ago which caused her "guilt, shame and depression for many years and to this day regrets having undergone it", a judge heard.

The case raised the question whether the parents of a young girl who goes to her doctor or other health professional over abortion, contraception or sexually-transmitted disease are entitled at least to be told about any proposed advice and treatment before it is provided.

Mr Justice Silber, sitting in London, ruled that Mrs Axon, who has five children, or any other parent, had no right to know unless the child decided otherwise.

To force a girl to tell her parents "may lead her to make a decision that she later regrets or seek the assistance of an unofficial abortionist", said the judge.

Mrs Axon, who will not be seeking leave to appeal, said after hearing the result: "I am obviously disappointed by the judgment of the court today."

Her elder daughter, Joy, is pregnant and expecting a baby due on her 17th birthday on March 25.

Mrs Axon said: "Having endured the trauma of abortion, I brought the case to ensure that medical professionals would not carry out an abortion on one of my daughters without first informing me.

"I could then discuss such a life-changing event with her and provide the support she would need.

"I do not regret having brought these proceedings. The court has explained that a young girl needs to understand all the implications of the options if she is to be allowed to have an abortion.

"The judge has explained that this is a high threshold and that few girls will meet it.

"He has underlined that abortion can have severe medical and psychological consequences for the girl concerned.

"I hope these proceedings will help parents and children to recognise the trauma of abortion and to talk openly about sexual matters.

"It is only then that our children can be protected from potentially damaging advice offered by professionals who do not know them."