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Saturday, October 1, 2016
Archbishop's statement on under-age abortion case
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¬†Archbishop Peter Smith, Chairman of the Department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, has issued the following statement on the Melissa Smith under-age abortion case. We are seeing the consequences of the judgement of the House of Lords in the Gillick case in 1985 in respect of contraception extending now into the even more serious issue of abortion ≠ the killing of a human life. For a health worker to refer a 14-year old child to doctors with a view to having an abortion without the knowledge or consent of the mother is an appalling affront to the proper rights and responsibilities of parents. It undermines the values of family life and in particular the rights of parents to nurture, guide and at times properly make decisions in the best interests of their children. It also promotes a culture of irresponsibility in respect of sexual relationships between young people who are under-age because it offers an "easy way out" under the cloak of confidentiality. It seems to me that the law in this area is unclear. On the one hand, parents are held responsible for truancy by their children, and can be fined and even imprisoned. On the other hand, the proper rights of parents to guide and support a child in this very grave matter of abortion, have been completely removed by allowing an unwarranted discretion on the part of teachers, health care workers and doctors who are under no legal obligation to inform those principally responsible for their children, namely the parents. It is high time that the law in this area is revised to restore the proper rights and responsibilities of the parents. May 14, 2004 Archbishop Peter Smith, Archbishop of Cardiff
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