One of the most important propositions on the ballot this year is Proposition 4. If passed, it would require parental notification and a waiting period when a minor wishes to get an abortion. The law would also have exceptions that allow another adult relative to be notified in lieu of a parent when there may be abuse in the home. Under the current law, a girl of any age can get an abortion without parental notification or consent.
This proposition should not be made into a partisan debate. It is not about outlawing abortion, as some advertisements have claimed, but about ensuring that older predatory men do not coerce young girls into getting abortions without the knowledge of the girl’s family.
Legally, a minor in this state can’t get an aspirin at school, go on a field trip or go to a tanning salon without parental consent. We don’t leave minors to take care of these trivial things by themselves, yet we allow them free to make a life-altering decision that can have serious medical and psychological ramifications without even notifying a parent.
Opponents of this law claim that if it’s enacted, thousands of girls will be forced into back-alley abortions, yet when they were given the opportunity in court to cite cases where danger or harm had come to a minor girl as a result of this type of law, those against Proposition 4 could not identify a single case. On the flip side, there are dozens of accounts of the trauma and pain that have occurred due to a lack of parental notification in California and other states.
In Connecticut, the case of a 10-year-old girl who was impregnated by a 75-year-old man went unreported. Two physicians examined the girl, but neither reported the sexual abuse to public authorities as required by Connecticut law. Instead, they referred her to an abortion clinic. This scenario does not stand alone. Even more troubling than the idea of minors making the decision to have a secret abortion, without a family member being notified, is the bigger problem of older, predatory men.
According to Yeson4.net, over 50 percent of pregnant California teenage girls were impregnated by older men. Under the current law, child rapists and predators are getting away with their crime and are able to continue abusing young girls. As many people know from news stories last year, Planned Parenthood, the biggest source of abortions in California, has a terrible record of covering up and failing to report cases of child abuse and rape of underage girls. In fact, in the last 15 years, no abortion provider in California has reported the sexual abuse of a minor. If the parents of these girls were notified of their daughter’s pregnancy and desire for an abortion, more of these cases of abuse would be uncovered and prosecuted, lessening the amount of victimized girls.
If none of these arguments are compelling enough, just look at the effects of similar measures in other states (more than 30 states have similar laws). These states have reported a decrease in sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy among minor girls as a result of their respective parental notification laws.
This law is important. It’s not a partisan issue and it’s not about overturning Roe v. Wade. It’s just about using common sense to protect young girls. Vote yes on 4.
Katie Fitzgerald is a third-year anthropology major. She can be reached at email@example.com.