In the real world, parental notification laws do not work because they cannot solve family problems or build better communication within families. If Proposition 4 passes, instead of communicating with their families, many pregnant, scared teenage girls will seek unsafe, illegal abortions or do something even more drastic.
These parental notification laws sound good in theory, but in practice they are dangerous. If a teenage girl felt comfortable telling her parents about her pregnancy, she would tell them. However, if for whatever reason she can’t, Proposition 4 would require these girls to sign an agreement that there is a history of abuse in her family. Social services would then investigate the same family that she has to go home to every day.
I personally was in an abusive relationship and although my family was very supportive of me, we did not have any trust or good communication. I was so scared to tell them I was pregnant, but I could not have a child with my abusive partner because I would have been stuck in a relationship that would have ruined my life. I witnessed his abuse as it became more intense during the two weeks we both knew that I was pregnant and I was scared for my life. My gynecologist even looked down on me. How could I tell my parents?
Eventually, my parents did find out through my abusive boyfriend. They were incredibly supportive of me and were sad that I had gone through it alone. They asked me to come home for the weekend so that they could give me their love and support. Although I have a very supportive family, when I went home that weekend, emotions were all over the place. It ended with my father beating me, my brother calling the police and me crying on the floor for hours.
Proposition 4 will not reduce teen pregnancy, nor will it reduce the number of sexual predators. Instead, it pushes scared, pregnant teens to desperate measures.
Currently the law allows a pregnant teenager to approach the court system for approval of an abortion without parental notification. However, with such a time-sensitive issue, sending a young girl to navigate the court system and pour out her intimate details to an impersonal judge is unrealistic. Girls are also in more danger the longer they wait to have the procedure done, because it is more painful and there is a greater chance for complications.
Proposition 4 also puts doctors in a difficult situation. If by any chance a parent finds out that their child had an abortion (no matter how long ago it was), Proposition 4 allows them to sue the doctor that performed the abortion.
Only a few decades ago, birth control was outlawed by the state. The state has long had control over a woman’s reproductive system. In this country, minors also have very few rights. Their parents limit their rights. However, if a teenager is old enough to make the decision to have sex, she is also old enough to make the decision whether or not to take birth control or to have an abortion for an unwanted pregnancy. She can make decisions about her reproductive system like any other sexually active person.
Parents rightfully want to be involved in their children’s lives. However, in the real world not all children live in homes where communication is easy. Pregnancy is a very sensitive subject. In a society that condemns young girls for it, teenagers may not feel comfortable revealing such a detail with anyone, even their parents. Family communication must start before a teenager has an unplanned pregnancy. New laws cannot enforce this communication and they will not protect teens in unsafe homes.
If a young girl cannot go to her parents, the most important thing is her safety. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the California District, the California Medical Association, the California Association of Family Physicians, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the California Teachers Association and parents all over California ask you to vote No on Proposition 4.
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Filed Under: Opinion