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Can Your Daughter Get An Abortion Without You Knowing? The Battle Over California's
Proposition 73 | Valerie Schmalz | August 8, 2005
Diana Lopezs daughter was brought to the Planned Parenthood clinic
by the daughters boyfriends mother, after picking her up from
school in San Diego. When Ms. Lopez learned of this and raced to the clinic,
the clinic personnel barred her from seeing her daughter.
"What? She's only 13 and I'm her mother! I want to be there with her!"
Lopez said. Lopez also spoke to a supervisor, who, she said, threatened
to call the police when Lopez got into a heated discussion with the boyfriend's
mother. Lopez said that Planned Parenthood sent her daughter home with painkillers,
antibiotics, and birth control pills but did not speak with Lopez regarding
aftercare instructions. Lopez insists that had she known her daughter was
pregnant, she would have urged her to have the baby. (Source: Parents
Right to Know/Yes on Proposition 73 site)
If you were a 16-year-old girl would you want your Mom to know you were
seeking an abortion? What if you were 13?
Backers of the California Parents Right to Know initiative, Proposition
73, are betting that Mom and Dad would want to knowno matter
what their beliefs about a womans "right" to an abortion.
The case of a San Diego mother of four whose 13-year-old daughter had an
abortion during school hourswhile her mother was barred from the room
by abortion clinic personnelis one of the key examples cited by proponents
of Proposition 73.
"Whatever she decides is going to impact her for the rest of her life.
She really needs the involvement of those who love her and know her best,"
said Michaelene Fredenburg, president of San Diego-based Life
Perspectives and an abortion survivor. Life Perspectives reached 375,000
individuals through its high school education program in the past five years
in the San Diego area, according to its literature.
In most Western states, in Illinois, and along much of the East Coast a
minor daughter can obtain an abortion, often with the complicity of her
school counselor or other school officials, during school hours, without
the knowledge of a parent or guardian, according to Americans
United for Life and its ideological opponent, Planned
Parenthood Federation (PDF file).
Protecting Young Girls From Older Predators
When parents can be kept out of the picture, older men have a license to
prey on young girls without being caught, Fredenburg said. "Certainly
what weve been hearing anecdotally from high school is that these
men can enter into relationships with young girls who are easier for them
to control and manipulate and these men know if a pregnancy results, they
do not have to be responsible for it," Fredenburg said. Parental notification
will give the girls "some power" to say no, she said: "Teen-age
girls are extremely vulnerable."
In California, Medi-Cal abortions are available to every pregnant woman,
without regard to age, state of residence, or income. About a third of the
states abortions are Medi-Cal, Yes on Prop. 73 spokesman Albin Rhomberg
The state legislative analyst (PDF)
estimates the measure would reduce minor abortions by 25 percent.
The initiative would reduce minor abortions paid for by the state, Rhomberg
said, because it would require the state to comply with parental notification
since "the state is supposed to follow its own laws, even if there
are no penalties."
Largely because California is strongly pro-abortion in its voting patterns,
Proposition 73 is weaker than the legislative model recommended by Americans
United for Life, containings no criminal penalties. However, it has a detailed
reporting requirement that is designed to protect the names of the girls
who get abortions but makes public the names of the doctors.
Instead of state enforcement, Californias Proposition 73 gives parents
the right to sue an abortion provider if the provider does not notify them
of their daughters impending abortion. Under the proposition, the
scheduled provider of the abortion is required to give at least one parent,
or legal guardian, written notice that their minor daughter (under 18 years
of age) has scheduled an abortion. The notice must be received by the parent
48 hours before the scheduled abortion.
Except in cases of medical emergency or when medical incapacity precludes
the minors consent, the initiative explicitly says she may not be
coerced into undergoing an abortion by anyone, whether a boyfriend, boyfriends
parent(s), abortion provider or even their own parent. The initiative permits
"judicial relief if the minors consent to abortion (is) coerced."
Unaware of Abortions Seriousness
Young girls tend not to realize abortion is a serious medical procedure
that requires post-operative care and observation, said Prof.
Teresa Stanton Collett, law professor at the University
of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
"Many minors may ignore or deny the seriousness of post-abortion symptoms
or may lack the financial resources to respond to those symptoms,"
Ms. Collett told a U.S. House of Representatives committee. Some of the
most serious complications are delayed, yet, only about one-third of all
abortion patients actually keep their appointments for post-operative checkups,
"Absent parental notification, hemorrhaging may be mistaken for a heavy
period and severe depression as typical teenage angst," Ms. Collett
said in her testimony. Ms. Collett was instrumental in crafting the California
initiative, said Yes on Prop. 73 spokesman Rhomberg.
Ms. Collett was testifying in support of federal legislation that would
bar an abortion provider from performing an abortion on an out of state
minor without parental permission. The bill, HR 748 passed the House of
Representatives 270-157 and is now before the U.S. Senate.
General Support for Parental Notification
Nationwide, most people support parental notification as long as a
judicial bypass is included in the legislation, as required by past rulings
by the U.S. Supreme Court, Rhomberg said. A judicial bypass means the girl
may ask a judge to allow her to obtain an abortion without telling her parents.
In case of a medical emergency, parental notification is not required.
A June 22, 2005, Field Poll found 48 percent of likely California voters
in favor and 43 percent opposed, but so far Proposition 73 has received
very little publicity. The California Catholic Conference, which represents
the states bishops, plans to issue a statement in support near the
end of the summer, a Conference official said.
The California initiative is "very unlikely" to be affected by
the U.S. Supreme Courts decision to hear arguments this fall in the
case of New Hampshires parental notification law involving disputes
over the phrasing of its medical emergency exception, Rhomberg said. Californias
initiative contains a medical emergency exception in full compliance with
all existing U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Rhomberg said.
Meanwhile, within California, there is talk of calling off the November
8 special election because of problems with some of Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggers
voting and budget initiatives unrelated to this issue. If that happens,
the initiative would go before voters at the next election, likely in June
California Law Weak, But Tough to Challenge in Courts
If Proposition 73 is approved by votersand it promises to be a difficult
fight with pro-abortion groups including NARAL Pro-Choice California, Planned
Parenthood, and the ACLU lining up to oppose itCalifornia would become
the only West Coast state to require parental consent. The California initiative
is exceptionally weakit is a constitutional amendment without criminal
penalties, which NARAL Pro-Choice California says on
its website would make legal challenges "not an option."
"Ours is exceedingly weak, deliberately," Rhomberg told IgnatiusInsight.com.
"We depend entirely on civil enforcement. The aggrieved party has the
right to go to court."
Backing Proposition 73 are two strongly pro-life California activists as
well as Tom Monaghan, founder of Dominos Pizza and, more recently,
of Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida. On its website, NARAL Pro-Choice
California describes these backers, including newspaper owner Jim Holman
and former state Assemblyman and winemaker Don Sebastiani, as "some
of the most conservative, right-wing donors in California." The NARAL-California
website notes that in 1990, Holman pled guilty to two misdemeanor charges
stemming from abortion clinic protests and that he has contributed or loaned
close to $1.3 million to the campaign, most to gather signatures.
"None of this really affects the basic question which is who can best
make the decision for childrentheir parents or a stranger who has
monetary gain," Holman told Insight, referring to the abortion providers
who under existing law may perform an abortion on any minor at state expense.
"This other stuff, I think it shows the weakness of their case that
they would want to do the ad hominem arguments--but I did expect
Related IgnatiusInsight.com link: Fighting
for a Healthcare Culture of Life: An Interview with Mike ODea, founder
of Christus Medicus Foundation | Valerie Schmalz | August 8, 2005
Valerie Schmalz is a writer for IgnatiusInsight.
She worked as a reporter and editor for The Associated Press, and in print
and broadcast media for ten years. She holds a BA in Government from University
of San Francisco and a Master of Science from the School of Foreign Service
at Georgetown University. She is the former director of Birthright of San
Francisco. Valerie and her wonderful husband have four children.
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