These rows over school abortions are not new.

I remember in 1996 on Radio Liberty debating the rights of teenagers to have abortions without parental consent. Back then, health professionals and school counsellors were between the proverbial and a hard place.

When pregnant patients consulted them, privacy laws prevailed.

Fifteen years later, I'm with the schools on this issue. If young school girls get pregnant and their family situation is such they would rather confide in a counsellor instead of their mother, their girlfriend's mother, their grandmother, or even their boyfriend's mother, then isn't something amiss right there, for starters?

Before any of you start, yes, I do have daughters - three. And yes, I'd be slightly upset if they told me they'd had an abortion while at school, but not "horrified".

Worse things happen with teenagers: they die in car crashes, drown in alcohol, overdose with drugs, deliberately take their own lives.

Or have babies when they should be at school.

Despite the feel-good stories about teenagers who gave birth then continued their education at a school for teenage parents, no one in this country, in the 21st century, should be forced to become a mother when their life is ahead of them.

We're open about contraception, we have more sex education than philosophy lessons in schools, but we still have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the Western world. So why are we still so conservative about abortion?

Let's not pull any punches here. Too many unwanted, nuisance-factor babies are born. If they were loved and treasured, why are they admitted to Starship Hospital at the rate of one a week with non-accidental injuries?

Why are they beaten to death with such alarming regularity that we're no longer shocked when we read the headlines, but just turn the page and sigh?

We have to do everything we can to stop teenage girls having babies and, if school counsellors see young girls in trouble, then I trust them to be professional and, in the first instance, urge the girls to talk to their parents.

I've been on a board of trustees of a large Auckland school and I've seen how some girls were treated by their parents when it was thought they had brought shame on the family. They were physically punished, sometimes to the extent CYFS had to be notified. Obviously in some cases, an abortion is the path of least resistance. It's not as if the counsellor alone is responsible. By law, two certifying consultants, one with experience in obstetrics, must examine the girl and give approval for the procedure. She does not go through the operation alone, as has been asserted.

Of course the pro-life groups and Bob McCoskrie's Family First lobby group are outraged.

McCoskrie says if parents must give consent for students to go on school trips, then they should have to do the same for abortions.

It's a fair argument but he's missing the point. The kids have already done something the parents would go ballistic over - had unprotected sex.

Isn't it a bit late to start fussing about consent forms when there's an unwanted baby on the way?

What will a 12, 14 or 16-year-old do if mum won't sign the consent form and boots her out of home? Live with McCoskrie? And what life will that unwanted baby have?

Pro-lifers have no right to ruin a young girl's life and a foetus is just that. It can't survive on its own so has no claim over the mother.

It's not as if adoption is an easy option these days. If these girls have their babies, they are put under enormous pressure to keep them, plus unconditional access to the DPB reduces financial risk.

And what is their future? At best, bright. I've met successful graduates from Porirua's school for teenage parents, but they're the exception, not the rule.

At worst, it's bleak. A string of itinerant boyfriends yelling at the child to shut the f*** up. Struggling to make ends meet. "Falling pregnant" again, whatever that means. Another boyfriend. Bashed babies.

An abortion, with or without parental consent, can avoid all this.