California Proposition 85, Parental Notification on Abortion, Makes Sense

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 4, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

California Proposition 85, Parental Notification on Abortion, Makes Sense Email this article
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by Noelle Patno
November 4, 2006

LifeNews.com Note: Noelle Patno is Executive Advisor of Stanford Students for Life, the pro-life campus group at Stanford University.

Any girl in California under the age of 18 can legally obtain a taxpayer-funded abortion — or be coerced into one — without the knowledge of those responsible for her.

Such a legal environment fosters the willful ignorance of possible abuse and grants sexual predators and profiteering strangers the power to preempt parental rights, to pocket the funds of those who do not support abortions, and to endanger minors. Minors are called “minors” because society does not yet consider them mature enough to make important decisions regarding health and safety. There is no reason that abortion should be an exception. Fortunately, Proposition 85 proposes to address this contradiction.

Under Proposition 85, a minor seeking an abortion will be provided with two options: paperwork to notify her legal guardians within 48 hours; or a free, confidential petition to the juvenile court for a waiver. If any other person has attempted to coerce her into an abortion, the measure requires that it be reported to a child protection agency. Finally, the doctor will be required to obtain the minor’s consent before performing the abortion.

Proposition 85, then, is nothing more than common sense.

It prohibits the cover-up of abuse, circumvents coercion, and allows parents the opportunity to know that their child is seeking an abortion. It thereby ensures the young patient will be granted assistance in making an informed decision, access to family medical history, and aid in post-treatment follow-up. The same sound reasoning lies behind the fact that every other medical procedure for a minor — from an ear piercing to a simple aspirin provided by the school nurse — requires parental consent. An invasive surgery should at least entail notification.

In Bellotti v. Baird, the Supreme Court recognized that parents evaluate and select better health care providers than minors, and that parental involvement will protect them from unsanitary and unsafe abortion clinics, like those exposed in The Seattle Times and The Los Angeles Times.

Parental involvement also curbs abusive relationships in which older men exploit young girls and use secret abortions to cover up their crimes. Such situations are disturbingly widespread: a study of 46,000 pregnancies of school-age girls in California revealed that 71 percent were caused by men with a mean age of 22.6 years. Parents need to know that this is happening.

Meanwhile, parental notification laws have been shown not only to lower teen abortion rates but actually to promote sexual responsibility on the part of minors.

A study by the Western Economic Association International in 1994 states that, on average, parental involvement laws reduce the rate of adolescent pregnancies by 8 percent. For example, the Center for Disease Control reports that the rate of teen pregnancies (ages 15-19) in Pennsylvania dropped a staggering 15.3 percent from 1992 to 1995, following a parental consent law enacted in 1992. A more recent study by Michael New confirms this trend in other states.

Young girls are understandably reluctant to inform their parents of the upsetting news of a pregnancy. However, the vast majority of parents will provide their daughter with the support that only a parent, not a stranger who profits from abortions, can give. Unplanned pregnancy and abortion are serious issues; thus, there is a significant temptation for young teens, even from the best of families, to avoid upsetting their parents by secretly obtaining an abortion. But this natural reluctance indicates the need for the law, not a problem with it.

In the rare case in which a minor’s fear of parental abuse is founded, the proposition will allow her confidentially to petition the juvenile court for a waiver. If evidence of an abusive family situation is demonstrated, the court will provide this waiver in a timely manner (less than a week) and notify a child protection agency. Opponents of Proposition 85 act as though a secret abortion will solve the problem.

But an underage victim of abuse needs more than just privacy — she needs help. Under the current system, with abortion providers generally unwilling to report evidence of statutory rape or other abuse to the appropriate services, young victims undergo secret procedures and are quietly returned to the same abusive environment.

It makes sense that the involvement of parents in their minor daughters’ lives will help these teenage girls make better choices about their health and well-being. And it’s only fair that parents be allowed to do so. Vote Yes on Proposition 85.

Meanwhile, parental notification laws have been shown not only to lower teen abortion rates but actually to promote sexual responsibility on the part of minors.

A study by the Western Economic Association International in 1994 states that, on average, parental involvement laws reduce the rate of adolescent pregnancies by 8 percent. For example, the Center for Disease Control reports that the rate of teen pregnancies (ages 15-19) in Pennsylvania dropped a staggering 15.3 percent from 1992 to 1995, following a parental consent law enacted in 1992. A more recent study by Michael New confirms this trend in other states.

Young girls are understandably reluctant to inform their parents of the upsetting news of a pregnancy. However, the vast majority of parents will provide their daughter with the support that only a parent, not a stranger who profits from abortions, can give. Unplanned pregnancy and abortion are serious issues; thus, there is a significant temptation for young teens, even from the best of families, to avoid upsetting their parents by secretly obtaining an abortion. But this natural reluctance indicates the need for the law, not a problem with it.

In the rare case in which a minor’s fear of parental abuse is founded, the proposition will allow her confidentially to petition the juvenile court for a waiver. If evidence of an abusive family situation is demonstrated, the court will provide this waiver in a timely manner (less than a week) and notify a child protection agency.

Opponents of Proposition 85 act as though a secret abortion will solve the problem. But an underage victim of abuse needs more than just privacy — she needs help. Under the current system, with abortion providers generally unwilling to report evidence of statutory rape or other abuse to the appropriate services, young victims undergo secret procedures and are quietly returned to the same abusive environment.

It makes sense that the involvement of parents in their minor daughters’ lives will help these teenage girls make better choices about their health and well-being. And it’s only fair that parents be allowed to do so. Vote Yes on Proposition 85.