Source: The Mercury, 8 May, 1997, p.3


Three in every 10 girls are falling pregnant in 15-19 age group

Tassie's teen mums

 
By EVE LAMB 
 
AN estimated 30% of 
Tasmanian girls become 
pregnant between the 
ages of 15 and 19. 
 
   State Family Planning 
Association executive director 
Paul Duncombe yesterday 
estimated the state's figures 
were in line with those 
released for the nation as a 
whole. 
 
   Figures provided by the 
Victorian counselling and 
education service, Open 
Doors, show three of every 10 
Australian girls become pregnant 
between the ages of 15 and 19 
and more than 60% of all 
teenage pregnancies end in 
abortion. 
 
   Open Doors counselling 
director Anne Neville said the 
figures were based on findings 
by the Australian Bureau of 
Statistics and the federal Human 
Services Department. 
 
   She said the finding was also 
based on figures recorded by 
the South Australian 
Government. 
 
   Mr Duncombe said South 
Australia and the Northern 
Territory were the only states 
to keep accurate statistics 
relating to teenage pregnancy 
and abortion. 
 
   He said the politicising of 
the issue prevented concise 
statistics being recorded in 
most states, including 
Tasmania, and also hindered 
the ability of pregnant 
teenagers to get the help and 
counselling they needed. 
 
   "Most teenagers' experience 
of pregnancy loss is painful 
lonely and often overlooked," 
Ms Neville said. 
 
   She said during Pregnancy 
Loss Awareness Week this 
week Open Doors would 
particularly aim to draw 
attention to the often hidden 
grief experienced by teenagers 
after pregnancy termination, 
and the need for counselling 
after a termination. 
 
   "The need for secrecy may 
mean that the young girl's 
parents and other significant 
people in her life are not aware 
of her loss," Ms Neville said. 
 
   "Often the only support 
person is her boyfriend who is 
also struggling with his own 
feelings of overwhelming 
responsibility and sadness. 
 
   "Most teenage relationships 
do not survive the abortion 
experience and so the young 
girl's feelings of despair and 
emptiness can be compounded 
by a double loss. 
 
   "Teenagers need to have 
more access to professional 
pregnancy loss counselling 
following a termination." 
 
   Mr Duncombe said the 
politicising of the issue had 
prevented it moving into the 
mainstream of health care 
which decreased pregnant 
teenagers' ability to receive 
impartial counselling. 
 
   "If a person gets good 
counselling and the chance to 
make up her own mind and not 
be pressured one way or 
another, the grief and suffering 
is likely to be much less," Mr 
Duncombe said. 
 
   "There is a danger that 
people won't find an impartial 
counsellor. 
 
   "I even know of someone 
being told you can't get an 
abortion in Tasmania." 
 
   Abortions are performed in 
Tasmania at public and private 
hospitals and at the Womens 
Health Foundation clinic in 
Moonah. 
 
   In 1996 a total of 112 
pregnant 14- to 19-year-olds 
used the Family Planning 
Tasmania's counselling 
service. 
 
   Of those, only five 17- 
year-olds and six 19-year-olds 
had planned their pregnancy. 
 
   Fifty one of the 112 who 
used the counselling service 
chose an abortion, 38 
continued with their pregnancy 
three had miscarriages and the 
choice of 20 remained 
unknown.


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