Could 14 year old Amy Barlow on Corrie really have an abortion without her parents knowing?
Posted by Antonia Tully on 25 January 2019
Amy Barlow at the abortion clinic.
14 year-old Amy Barlow, a character in Coronation Street, is centre stage in a current story line. Amy is pregnant and the story so far has sparked a national debate, with a shocked public asking "How can a 14 year-old have an abortion without her parents knowing?"
It seems that the soap opera has become something of a wake-up call, with people expressing their surprise on social media. Of course, this is not a surprise to us in the pro-life movement. SPUC’s Safe at School campaign has long highlighted the way in which so-called 'confidentiality' for young people seeking contraception and abortion is, in reality, institutional secrecy. We do not have a culture in which underage teenagers are encouraged to turn to their parents.
She needs her mum and dad, not abortion pills
I thought the scene showing Amy Barlow talking to the nurse in the clinic rang very true. An angry, defiant Amy tells the nurse that she’s "been on the internet" and she "wants the pills". Sadly, the internet is the first place many girls like Amy will go. And, tragically, abortion will come up as the way forward. Yet you can also see the panic behind Amy’s anger; she wants to stop being pregnant as quickly as possible and a couple of pills is all she can think about.
What Amy really needs is her mum and dad, not abortion pills. And, at the time of writing, Amy’s parents are offering to bring the baby up. No parent wants to see their daughter pregnant at 14. But if that’s where you are, abortion is not the answer. I have listened to a heart-broken mother telling me that her teenage daughter had an abortion because they were told it was the right decision. Through her sobs she told me it was not.
Culture allowing exploitation
Coronation Street has also prompted a wider discussion about child protection. However much the abortion providers claim that they counsel underage girls before an abortion, and look into whether a young girl may be a victim of sexual exploitation, that claim rings hollow to us. A study of serious case reviews* of child sexual exploitation in cities around the country found that the failure of professionals to detect abuse was not due to incompetent services but to a culture in which underage sex is seen as normal. Respecting a child’s right to access abortion and contraception trumped virtually every other consideration.
Are abortion clinics safeguarding underage clients?
In addition, one of the most concerning findings of the horrific CQC report into the Marie Stopes clinic in Maidstone, Kent, concerned abortions carried out on children. The report says: "In the period January – April 2016, across all MSI clinics, 230 children less than 16 years of age were seen but no safeguarding referrals were made. Thirteen children under 16 years of age were treated at the Maidstone clinic." Inspectors raised concerns that staff were obtaining consent from children without proper qualifications, and counselling was often done over the phone, with the counsellor having no way of knowing they were speaking to a child.
Clinic staff also explicitly discouraged parental involvement, the report said. One told inspectors: "The trouble is parents might not react as you think and might be disappointed" and "Parents get upset, we don’t involve them."
Brook, a sexual health charity for young people which is widely promoted in schools, stresses: "Brook believes the best way to protect young people who are sexually active is to reaffirm their right to access confidential sexual health services whilst empowering and supporting professionals to make an effective assessment as to whether they are at risk of harm or exploitation."
Love them both
Abortion providers do exactly that. The pro-life movement has so much more to offer a young girl like Amy Barlow. A girl like Amy needs time and support to repair the misunderstandings and the alienation both she and her parents are experiencing. She needs a loving person to help her think about the tiny unborn baby who has innocently triggered this crisis. The abortion industry wants girls in and out of their facilities as quickly as possible. The pro-life movement is committed to protecting the life-long health and well-being of girls and women and their babies.
*Unprotected: How the normalisation of underage sex is exposing children and young people to the risk of sexual exploitation by Norman Wells is published by Family Education Trust, The Atrium, 31 Church Road, Ashford, Middlesex TW15 2UD familyeducationtrust.org.uk Paperback, 152pp, ISBN: 978-0-906229-24-8, Price: £7.50