Last year, Proposition 73, which would have prohibited abortions for underage girls for 48 hours after parental notification by a physician, was defeated by voters.
So what’s it doing back on the ballot disguised as a new proposition?
Proposition 85 is suggesting the same law with a number change. It is a dangerous initiative that not only threatens vulnerable teenagers, but also interferes with a woman’s right to choose. It would put teenagers at a greater risk, especially those who come from unstable homes. Teenagers who have been raped or molested by family members would be forced to reveal their pregnancy, possibly leading to further violence and sexual abuse.
It is understandable that a parent would want to know if his or her child were pregnant. But this proposition is misleading by claiming that it would help parents ‘protect’ their children. The fact is that seven out of 10 teens will involve a parent in a decision related to pregnancy. This law would be unable to protect the teens who really need help.
Let’s examine a hypothetical situation: A 16-year-old girl comes from a lower-income family. Her mother remarries, and the stepfather rapes his new stepdaughter without the mother’s knowledge. If the girl is forced to admit her pregnancy in order to abort the unwanted child, who is to say that the parents would believe her, let alone not abuse her? Involving volatile parents would only make the teenager’s life more hazardous. And once faced with the threat of being kicked out of her home, how tempted might this girl be to go through with an illegal abortion in order to protect herself? Forcing young girls to choose between an illegal and harmful abortion or a confrontation with parents is uncalled for and unsafe.
Supporters argue that the proposition allows for pregnant teens to seek help from a judge to avoid speaking to her parents. However, a pregnant teenager is probably not going to be in the mindset to speak to a complete stranger about her pregnancy. Teenagers don’t need a legal professional; they need loving families, understanding doctors and trained counselors who will help advise them on their choices.
Endorsers of Proposition 85 also support overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case that allows for abortion in the United States. The Traditional Values Coalition, the Evangelicals for Social Action and Right to Life and Jim Holman, publisher of the Catholic publication the ‘San Diego Reader,’ are all behind this proposition. Holman alone has donated $2.1 million to this cause. It’s pretty evident that these groups are not rallying to protect teenage girls, but to end abortion once and for all. This hidden agenda needs to go and teenagers need to be protected. The Los Angeles Times says, ‘Proposition 85 is an unnecessary measure. … For girls afraid to report molestation, the proposition would create an almost insurmountable obstacle.’ And remember, this is the second time this law has been on the ballot. We said ‘no’ once, and we can say ‘no’ again.
It is not the government’s job to legislate communication in the family. That can only be done, hopefully, within the private sphere. Besides, California teen pregnancy rates have fallen by 46 percent over the last 10 years. Clearly, something is working.
So why start up trouble now? The issue of teen pregnancy needs prevention, caring and understanding families, not new laws endangering the well-being of young women. Proposition 85 is unnecessarily trying to take away a woman’s right to choose and is harmful to the pregnant teens who truly need legal protection.
Nadia Osman is a fourth-year history major.