The UK is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Children's rights held in the month of December in the year 1991. The Convention acts as a basis for protection of children's rights in all member states. (Every Child Matters, 2008)
The convention provides that all children have the right to life. This brings up a vital question; can a foetus be considered as a child The United Kingdom recognises viable foetuses as those ones who have exceeded twenty four weeks. (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 2004) This is why the Abortion Act of 1967 allows abortions before a pregnancy has reached that stipulated time. In relation to this, the UK only allows abortion in cases where the unborn child will affect his mother's health both physically and mentally. By providing such a restriction, the unborn child's right to life is protected because mothers may not terminate their pregnancies for minor reasons. This ensures that unborn children's rights are protected in the most viable way possible.
The Abortion Act of 1967 also provides that abortions should only be carried out after obtaining consent from two medical practitioners. (Abortion right, 2007) The purpose of this stipulation is to further ascertain that abortions are only carried out in extreme conditions and that a child's best interests are protected even before they are born. However, certain human rights groups like the Society for the protection of the unborn child claims that these laws are not doing enough to protect the unborn child. They argue that all abortions should be made illegal through repealing of the abortion acts relevant to women in the UK today. (Arthur, 2007)
Experts agree that the United Kingdom's abortion laws are quite severe to women but protect unborn children through its restrictions. In comparison to other countries in that area, unborn children take precedence over women. In countries like Turkey, Austria, France and Norway, abortions are allowed on request by women. This is something that does not occur in the UK. In the former mentioned countries, unborn children are not considered as a priority. The State does have the right to protect children and this can be extended to unborn ones especially those ones in later stages of pregnancy.
Parental involvement for under-eighteens
Current UK laws have guidelines that provide that pregnant girls under the age of eighteen can conduct abortions on their own without parental involvement. (Kerrilie, 2007) Doctors are also obliged to maintain those girls' privacy and confidentiality. However, according to the UN Convention of Children's rights, Governments are expected respect children's rights to a nationality, name and even family ties. Additionally, the Convention states that;
'Governments should respect the rights and responsibilities of families to direct and guide their children so that as they grow, they learn to use those rights properly.' (UNICEF, 2006)
One can argue that current guidelines on parental involvement in abortions performed for under-eighteens in the United Kingdom do not apply this principle. They do not respect children's rights to family ties. This argument was seen in a case brought forward by a fifty one year old Sue Axon against the UK government. (BBC, 2005) She believed that girls should not be allowed