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Parents Outraged Over New Zealand Schools Planning 'Secret' Abortions

New Zealand parents are outraged after learning some schools are helping to keep teenage girls’ abortions a secret, the Sunday Star-Times reports.

One mom is angry that her 16-year-old daughter had a secret abortion allegedly arranged by a school counselor.

"I was horrified. Horrified that she'd had to go through that on her own, and horrified her friends and counselors had felt that she shouldn't talk to us," she told the Star-Times.

The mother learned that the school counselor had taken the girl for a scan and to doctors. “I didn’t know they could do that,” she said.

Another mother who was worried for her 15-year-old daughter "hit a brick wall" when she approached the school, and eventually discovered it was a friend of her daughter's who had undergone an abortion. "But I went through the horror of knowing that under the legislation, they did not need to say anything to me."

One teacher tells the Star-Times she knew of a student who had two abortions – one with her parents’ knowledge, and one without.

According to attorney Kathryn Dalziel, New Zealand educators are bound by the Health Privacy Code.

“When it comes to contraception and abortion, they [counselors] would need the consent of the person before they could share information with a parent or the school," Dalziel said.

Guidance counselor Helen Bissett said the situation could be an "ethical nightmare," and a number of schools now had wellness centers so girls could see a nurse, not a counselor.

Not knowing how a parent would react was one of the main reasons girls wanted to hide the truth, she said.

According to The Sunday Star-Times, statistics show that 3,950 New Zealand teens ages 11 through 19 had induced abortions in 2009. Of those, 79 were between 11 and 14 years old. Under section 38 of the Care of Children Act 2004, a female of any age can consent to an abortion. In 2004, lawmaker Judith Collins put forward an amendment to prevent girls under 16 from having an abortion without their parents' knowledge. The amendment was voted down.

Click to read more on the New Zealand abortion debate from the Sunday Star-Times