Abortions (Minors)

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Services – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th February 1987.

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Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Epping Forest 12:00 am, 10th February 1987

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services in what circumstances minors may be invited to give written consent to an abortion and to a general anaesthetic for such abortion, without parental knowledge; and whether he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

Written consent may be given in the circumstances described if, in the judgment of the doctor concerned, it is in the patient's best medical interest and she has sufficient maturity and understanding to appreciate what is involved.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Epping Forest

Dose my hon. Friend think that that squares with our principles of the defence of the family, family responsibility, parental responsibility and protection of the child?

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

I hope my hon. Friend will accept that those very points are emphasised both in the current guidance from the Department and in the guidance issued by the General Medical Council. It would be a rash person who would want an absolute rule in these circumstances with no room for judgment, especially as the risk would be that a young person might end up receiving no advice.

Photo of Mrs Jill Knight Mrs Jill Knight , Birmingham, Edgbaston

Is it not the case that parental approval must be obtained for a tonsil or adenoid operation on a minor, or even for the removal of a verruca? Does the Minister not feel that the removal of a child is even more important? How on earth can parents look after their children properly if they do not know the kind of ordeal that they have suffered?

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

As I have said, the guidance issued by the Department and by the General Medical Council clearly shows the normal desirability of ensuring that parents are involved. I am advised that in circumstances where in the clinical judgment of the doctor it is appropriate to proceed otherwise that would cover the use of an anaesthetic.