More Ballot Updates: No on Prop 4

Yesterday I provided an update on anti-choice ballot initiative Measure 11 in South Dakota — today it’s time for an update on anti-choice ballot initiative Prop 4 in California. Prop 4, a piece of legislation which will appear on the ballot for the third time in four years, would instate a parental notification requirement for minors seeking an abortion. This is dangerous legislation, which would violate the rights, health and safety of teens if it were to be passed — teens like Becky Bell.

Below is No on Prop 4‘s latest ad, pointing out the reality of illegal abortions sought by teens too afraid to tell their parents, whether because they’re in an abusive situation or simply terrified of a reaction:

Kathy Kneer from Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California explained concisely in an email to me the huge flaws in the initiative’s so-called “bypass procedure”:

It’s deceptive to call this “family notification.” Right now a teen can go notify another adult, but Prop 4 would close off that option. Under Prop 4 before a teen could notify another family member, she must first accuse a parent of mistreatment and sign written statement saying she fears physical, sexual, or severe emotional abuse – no matter what her circumstances really are. This would trigger a family investigation by authorities. This so-called notification is nothing more than a form letter sent to another person who may not even live in the same state. There is no requirement for counseling and no requirement that the substitute adult help her when she is in crisis.

Alternatively, a teen could avoid parental notification by appearing before a judge. However, this is unrealistic. If a teen is pregnant, unable to go to her parents, and already desperate, she isn’t going to navigate court bureaucracy to reveal the most intimate details of her life to an unfamiliar judge in an impersonal courthouse. She doesn’t need a judge; she needs a caring counselor and safe, quality medical care without delay. Proposition 4 provides none of this.

At least 37 newspapers have rightfully come out in opposition to Prop 4. But No on Prop 4 still desperately needs your help. A new poll shows that there is currently a statistical tie among voters — with 46% saying they’ll vote Yes, and 44% saying they’ll vote NO.

That’s way too close exactly one week out from Election Day. If you’re in California, please do what you can — and the first step is to Vote No on this dangerous initiative. Sign up to volunteer now, or view list of volunteer events. Also, please donate what you can. The lives, health and safety of teen girls are on the line.

cross-posted at The Curvature


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13 comments for “More Ballot Updates: No on Prop 4

  1. Flowers
    October 28, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    FINALLY a feminist blog comes out against 4. Everyone is so fixated on 8 that 4 is getting completely lost. It’s sad. I’m so glad a few groups at my school are doing joint No on 4 and No on 8 campaigns. Neither one should get more attention than the other.

  2. sasha
    October 28, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    well i am kind of conflicted about the parental notification issue. On one hand i understand that there are teens that can’t talk to their parents about them having sex but on the other hand i think parents of teens of a certain age (ex. under 15) should be notified that their child wants to have an abortion. Abortion is a surgical procedure that has risk involved and i think parents have the right to know that their child wants to undergo this medical procedure. If i were a parent I would want to know that my daughter is #1 pregnant and #2 considering an abortion; not so that i can forbid her from doing it but so that i can be there for her so she will not have to go through it alone. now what i don’t agree with in this prop 4 is the fact that a teen would have to accuse her parent’s of abuse; that’s rediculous. also i don’t agree with the teen having to go through the courts to get around notifying her parents.

  3. October 28, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    Sasha — if you were a parent, you would hopefully have a relationship with your daughter strong enough that you wouldn’t need a law to force her to come to you. And if you didn’t have that kind of close relationship, I’d hope that you’d at least want her to be safe and feel like she had somewhere to turn. It’s important to remember that while you may not want to stop your daughter from having an abortion, many parents would and would easily have the means to do so. Parental notification and consent laws literally give parents the power to force their daughters to give birth.

    Further, if you were going to have a parental notification law with exceptions, I’m not sure how else you would write them. If the teen doesn’t have to go through the courts, what’s the point? The law would be meaningless. In other words, like with all abortion laws that have “exceptions” there’s no way to write those exceptions in a way that is not a.) completely cruel, misogynistic and dangerous or b.) entirely without teeth. Those are in fact the two options.

  4. Suki T
    October 28, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Why do we have to keep voting on this year after year?

    Sasha, while I’m glad that you think your child and you will have such a close relationship, it isn’t and won’t be a reality for many teens. Many teen girls don’t have the option of safely notifying their parents that they are 1. having sex and 2. pregnant, and 3. considering an abortion, and even reporting abuse can be dangerous. Parents don’t own their childrens bodies, and even underage people should be able to have their medical histories kept confidential, even from their parents. It’s between a doctor and their patient.

  5. aldea
    October 28, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    We all think the same thing: our daughters would come to us.

    I thought the same of my daughter, who I took to the gyn for birth control and gardisil injections. Problem was that while she was getting the pharmaceutical protection she needed, and I thought our relationship was pretty tight – the guy she was dating was an abuser. She didn’t know how to tell me. I don’t know why. We’ve talked about it since, and she still can’t articulate it.

    And that’s the absolute reason why we should fight against parental notification laws.

  6. October 28, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    Thank you for sharing, Aldea. I bet that my mother thought I would come to her over an abusive relationship, too. I didn’t.

  7. October 28, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    I didn’t tell my mom because I didn’t think I could. I was a former runaway with drug problems and an unplanned pregnancy seemed like yet another failure to make my parents privy to. My sexual partner wasn’t even in the picture anymore. Because my state had parental notification laws, a friend and I scrounged up enough money, then we crossed state lines and I had an abortion. I was barely sixteen, but she had a driving license and provided an alibi.

    To be cliche, when there is the will, there is a way. Laws will not prevent women and girls from obtaining abortions. It will only make abortion more risky and more dangerous. More women will suffer without safe, legal access, period.

  8. October 28, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    God Lauren, I’m really glad that you had a friend who was able to help.

    It makes me happy that people are sharing their own stories. Because it really shows that the scenario that instantly springs to mind — that of an abusive parent — is not the only one that’s out there. Of course, with the terrifying so-called bypass procedure in the legislation, this law would affect those girls more than enough. But they’re not the only ones. There are all kinds of circumstances under which teens may be afraid to tell their parents about a pregnancy, like being in an abusive relationship, being afraid of disappointing their parents (which can be so huge when you’re a teenager), being afraid of getting kicked out of the home, etc. And while we may wish that those situations are different, putting these laws into place doesn’t fix anything and really only makes things worse.

  9. Morganna
    October 29, 2008 at 3:34 am

    My mom is an amazing mother who took me to the doctor so I could get on BC and I don’t think I could tell her if I was going to have an abortion. Not because she would be against it, just because I would feel so ashamed and that I had failed her. In reality I know she wouldn’t be mad at me, and would be hugely supportive, but I would have a hell of a time telling her, so I think that it’s really hard for kids to tell their parents anything that they think would disappoint or upset a parent. Being forced to do so could be pretty traumatic, on top of the emotions that can come about as the result of needing and having an abortion.
    And that’s in the case of a non-abusive household where any number of horrible things can happen to a teenager…forced parental notification is a really bad idea that will hurt young woman.

  10. Bitter Scribe
    October 30, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    Measures like this are meant to take away the right to abortion and nothing else. Every time I hear some jerk simper “Well, a young girl needs her parents’ permission to have her ears pierced,” I have an urge to pierce his ears myself.

  11. Lorie Grant
    October 31, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    This is a letter I wrote today to the San Diego Union Tribune’s Editor. If they print it, I will let you know.

    Upon reading Steve Breen’s comic (Ways to Protect Your Daughter, October 31, 2008), I feel I must comment on the current climate, that being the need to control young women. When does it end? Prop 4 proponents give the impression that every teen seeking an abortion is a victim of predatory sexual relationships with an adult. This could not be further from the truth. Rather than admit that teenagers have sex, they want to preach abstinence only programs in school, guaranteeing ignorance about sex and its sometimes unfortunate consequences. Teenage girls are not stupid. The reason they do not want to notify their parents is that it will forever change the relationship a young woman has with them. It’s her business. We need to take the focus off young women and the thinly disguised control masquerading as concern, and teach young men how their participation has an impact, rather than blaming young women or casting them as victims. Sex education is not something harmful. Quite the opposite. As an aside, this is the same edition that had in the Business section a large advertisement for Vazophrene, touting “Ground Breaking Developments in Sexual Enhancement” and a variety of much more explicit language describing its properties for the male sexual experience. Complete with a picture of a busty, scantily clad woman. Am I the only one sensing a double standard here?

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