Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Prop. 4: Endangering Teen Health

In November, citizens of California will vote on ballot initiative Prop. 4, which would require that a minor's parents be notified before she can have an abortion.
Of the 12 issues to be voted on, Proposition 4, which would require a 48-hour waiting period and parental notification before minors could get abortions unless a judge granted a waiver, has raised strong objections and vociferous support in Glendale and throughout the state.

Objections to the proposal have been spearheaded by the Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, which has mounted a more than $2-million campaign through 26 regional facilities that dot the state.

Other forces working against the measure, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the California Family Health Council, have raised about $300,000.

“We fully acknowledge that parents want to be involved in their children’s lives, and most are,” Planned Parenthood Public Relations Manager Serena Josel said. “But we recognize that some teens aren’t able to go to their parents with something as sensitive as unplanned pregnancy. A lot fear being kicked out of their homes or beaten or worse, and some turn to desperate measures."
I've discussed in the past why parental notification and consent laws are so dangerous. The fact is that some young women feel as though they cannot tell their parents they are pregnant, usually because of abuse. And while notification laws generally provide exceptions for this reason, the woman would have to go through a court process that is realistically almost impossible for a teenager to navigate in the time frame she needs to secure an abortion. Another option would be for the state to notify a different relative over the age of 21 -- so long as the pregnant girl provides a written statement saying she has been abused by her parents. A Planned Parenthood spokesperson has called it a "phony solution," and it is. In order for this exception to work, the young woman would need a relative who she can trust with her safety, and also be willing to file a legal accusation against a parent under the penalty of perjury. Starting a criminal investigation against your own parents is an intimidating and frightening prospect, and many teens may choose instead to put their own health and safety at risk with other dangerous alternatives to legal abortion.

Prop. 4 is an initiative that has appeared on the ballot under different names in both 2005 and 2006. Both times, voters decided that the health of teens has to come first.

This is the award winning "Break Outside Your Bubble" commercial that was run in opposition to the 2006 parental notification bill, Prop. 85:

Prop. 4 is on the ballot again in 2008 largely because of a single extremist millionaire who has funded the campaigns in favor of the propositions. Additionally, supporters have used lies to influence voter opinion. But the public still has the power to protect teen safety!

You can learn more about the initiative and how to get involved here.

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