The Social Affairs Committee of the Estonian Parliament started drafting new legislation in September, according to which teenage girls would not anymore be required to notify their parents or social workers about planned abortion. But the IRL party is opposing it.
IRL's parliamentary faction has expressed views that although a teenager would still be free to decide whether she wants to have an abortion or not, the requirement to communicate with a parent or social worker should be maintained.
On the opposing side are the Social Democrats who say that it should be completely up to teenagers to decide whether they want to have an abortion or not.
The chairwoman of the Social Affairs Committee, Heljo Pikhof (Social Democrats), said that a child is not a piece of property owned by someone and has to have the same human rights as their parents.
“There have been cases where a teenager and a parent have gone to court over the decision on abortion, but in reality, there cannot be a court solution, since no one can force a teenager either to abort or give birth – it would be unthinkable in the 21st century Europe,” Pikhof said to Eesti Päevaleht.
“When a teenager has a trustworthy relationship with her parents, there aren't usually problems in the decision process anyway, according to gynecologists. But for example, take a case where a teenager is staying in a care home, her parents are alcoholics, but still holding parenting rights – whom should she turn to ask permission to conduct an abortion?” Pikhof added.
Liisa-Ly Pakosta from IRL conceded that the current law that enables teenagers and parents to go to court over abortion needs changes, but not to another extreme.
“Quite often, a breakdown in communication over the pregnancy is simply because a teenager is worried and scared. There are many reasons for this, such as problematic and violent families, or even incest. But if a teenager does not want to discuss the pregnancy with her parents, there should be someone else she could turn to. It is quite possible that the anxiety over pregnancy could easily be overcome,” Pakosta said.
According to Pakosta, there should be social workers with special training available to deal with teenagers with concerns over pregnancy and abortion.
“They should be able to choose whether to speak to a parent or social worker. But in any case, they should speak first about the reasons, before having an abortion,” Pakosta said.
The draft bill for new legislation will proceed to parliament debate on January 20.
Editor: S. Tambur