Election day is one week from today, so I thought I'd do a little post about California's Proposition 85, and why all two of the people from California who read this blog should vote "NO" on this particular prop.
Prop 85 is basically a resubmission, with minor changes, of the already rejected Prop 73 from the last California election. It would require women under 18 seeking an abortion to notify their parents of their intent and then wait 48 hours before they could receive the abortion. While most people wouldn't claim that it's a bad thing for parents to be involved in their teenagers' lives, I do believe that it's wrong for the government to mandate parental notification.
Some teenagers may not feel safe telling their parents about their choice to have an abortion, for fear that they would be kicked out of the house or ever physically harmed. This may cause a teenage girl to seek dangerous means to end her unwanted pregnancy, or she may delay necessary medical care to avoid her parents finding out that she's pregnant.
While the proposition does provide for a judicial waiver if a teenager doesn't want to inform her parents, it seems rather unlikely that a girl who is afraid to tell her parents about her choice will have the courage to go before a judge.
Weirdly, one of the arguments that proponents of Prop 85 put forth is that a parental notification law will scare teenage girls into not having sex. Apparently, they think that the idea that they'll have to tell their parents if they want an abortion will make girls stay abstinent. This "logic" seems absurd to me. First, this proposition is supposedly about opening the lines of communication between parent and child, but the prop's backers are saying that kids will not have sex in order to avoid talking to their parents about their sex lives. Huh? Also, I have a feeling that a teenager beset by hormones, emotions and peer pressure is not going to stop and think, "If I get pregnant from the sex I am about to have, I'll have to tell my parents in order to get an abortion. Best to stay abstinent." I don't think most people in their 20s or 30s think that far ahead, let alone teenagers.
If the people backing Prop 85 really cared about preventing unwanted teen pregnancies, they would write a law that mandated comprehensive sex education and encouraged teenagers to educate themselves about the consequences of unprotected sex. Perhaps there could even be a required unit in California's sex education class called "How to talk to your parents about sex." I'd vote for that proposition.
On close inspection, Prop 85 feels like a sneaky way to intimidate teenagers who want to have a safe and legal abortion. Hopefully, Californians will vote "NO" next Tuesday.
The website for the No on 85 campaign can be found here.
Here's an article from the Los Angeles Times laying out arguments from both sides: Abortion Initiative Puts Focus on Girls' Welfare