A parental consent law for abortion would create harms and violate medical ethics and constitutional rights
March 29, 2014
(**Stats and links updated Nov 15, 2018**)
Dear Saskatchewan Members of the Legislative Assembly,
Two anti-abortion groups have recently launched a campaign to enact a law in Saskatchewan requiring parental consent before a minor can have an abortion (http://sk.parentalconsent.ca/).
The attached new Position Paper [updated Oct 2017] (also available here http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/postionpapers/58-Parental-Consent.pdf) demonstrates with comprehensive evidence that if a parental consent law for abortion was passed by any Canadian province or territory, it would contravene and reverse current medical policies and ethics around the consent of minors to healthcare, violate their constitutional rights to bodily security and privacy, and increase risks to their health and safety.
In Saskatchewan, a parental consent law for abortion would be particularly harmful and counter-productive, as it would disproportionately impact the high numbers of marginalized youth in your province, as the following facts attest:
- Child poverty rates in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are the highest in Canada, according to Saskatoon Health, which cites that 47.5% of food bank clients in Saskatchewan in 2012 were children under 18 (compared to 47.6% in Manitoba.) Saskatchewan also has a significant Aboriginal population (15.8%) that has historically experienced enormous economic and social hardships, much of which continues to this day.
- Saskatchewan has the second highest fertility rate for teenage women in Canada (21.3 per 1,000 women aged 15-19), second only to the Northwest Territories. A parental consent law for abortion would increase these rates even more, thereby continuing the cycle of poverty and dysfunction that so many are trapped in.
- The Saskatchewan Child Welfare Review Panel Report: For the good of our children and youth (http://cwrp.ca/publications/2363) documents that “Saskatchewan has high rates of alcohol dependency and abuse, the second largest concentration of youth gang members on a per capita basis, and high rates of child poverty, youth crime, incarceration, disability, family violence, and mental health problems.” In addition: “Caseloads of children in care keep growing, and the outcomes for children and families are not acceptable. … The majority of clients of the child welfare system are Aboriginal – First nations and Métis. The percentage has been growing over recent decades and seems likely to continue on that path.”
Given the environment of poverty and inequity that too many Saskatchewan youth live in, and the evidence submitted in the attached paper, we ask you to please reject any possibility of a parental consent law for abortion. Instead, we urge the Saskatchewan government to follow the recommendations of the above-noted report from the Saskatchewan Child Welfare Review Panel, which urged all levels of government to address the poverty-related conditions that drive child neglect and other social problems. These include making “significant improvements to the income support, affordable housing, and disability service systems used by Saskatchewan families.” We believe this would be the best way forward to protect Saskatchewan youth and improve their futures.
Thank you very much for your time and consideration.