California Pro-Life Advocates Begin Parental Notification Ballot Effort

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 10, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

California Pro-Life Advocates Begin Parental Notification Ballot Effort

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
September 10, 2003

Sacramento, CA ( — Some pro-life activists in California are launching a petition drive designed to place an initiative on the November, 2004 ballot, requiring that parents be notified when teenage girls are considering abortions.

The effort has been dubbed the "Tell a Parent" initiative. Volunteers plan to begin gathering signatures next month in an attempt to get the proposal on the ballot.

Under the initiative, one parent would have to be notified before an abortion could be performed on a girl under the age of 18.

The concept of parental notification in abortion cases is actually not new in California. The state legislature passed the pro-life law in the mid-’80s.

Even though the law was signed by the Governor, it was held up in the courts for many years. The state Supreme Court ruled the law constitutional in 1996 but, with a change in personnel, the court reversed itself in 1998 and deemed parental notification unconstitutional. Since that time, parental notification has languished in the state legislature, with pro-life forces unable to get the bill out of committee.

The ballot proposal is significant in that it is a constitutional amendment which would not be subject to the state Supreme Court. While federal courts would have jurisdiction over the amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that parental notification is constitutional.

Therefore, backers of the initiative believe it would withstand a court test.

Parental notification laws have proven highly effective in other states in reducing teen abortions.

Supporters of the California initiative believe that such an amendment could mean 20,000 fewer abortions in the state each year. The majority of U.S. states now have parental notification or parental consent laws on the books.

In Texas, the law is credited with reducing teen abortions by as much as 30 percent the year after it became law.

When asked about the initiative’s chances for success, organizer Maria Garcia replied, "Very good. It polled very high."

If public opinion polls hold true, the parental notification initiative would actually have broad support in California, even though the state is largely supportive of legal abortion.

A Zogby poll published in June of 2002 indicated 71 percent of those Californians surveyed support parental notification.

The pro-abortion lobby often claims parental notification requirements could be potentially life-threatening to teenage girls from abusive households. But, pro-life activists point out that there is little evidence to suggest that parental notification leads to violence. The California initiative would allow teenagers from abusive homes to go to court to avoid notifying their parents prior to abortions.

California groups supporting the ballot proposal have described their coalition as "Life on the Ballot."

They plan to solicit signatures between October and March of next year. Among the areas they’ll be targeting for signatures are church and school grounds. They note that signature gathering is legal at churches and schools, provided that it does not represent a significant part (more than 10%) of what the church or school does.

Garcia said the initiative promises to "restore parental rights, help protect our children, and strengthen our families…Most importantly, it would save unborn babies."

Related web sites:
Tell a Parent –