For the third time in four years, abortion is back on the California ballot.
Under Proposition 4, physicians would be required to notify the parents of a minor seeking an abortion 48 hours prior to the procedure.
Supporters say the purpose of Prop 4 is to provide minors with an adult family member to turn to for guidance.
The intention behind the legislation is understandable: Parents naturally feel the right to be involved in their children’s lives, especially concerning significant issues such as unplanned pregnancies. However, this is no way to legislate family communication.
If the teenager chooses not to notify her parents, she has two other options: an alternative family member notification, where she is allowed to tell another adult other than her parent, or she can request to obtain a court order waiving notice.
These alternatives are not realistic solutions. If the teenager wants to notify an alternate adult, the clinic has to file an abuse report on the minor’s parents, which will result in an investigation from Child Protective Services.
A judicial bypass is equally unfeasible: The minor must acquire a legal representative, appear in court and make her case before a judge. All this is hard for a minor, ostensibly in school all day, to accomplish without arousing the attention of her parents. Moreover, this entire process must take place on an accelerated timetable.
Those in favor of Prop 4 have argued that parental notification laws in other states have lowered abortion rates in those states. Though instate abortion rates have decreased, minors may investigate options both out of state and out of the country, such as Mexico.
Two ballot measures concerning parental notification of abortion have already failed in the past four years. In addition, most major California medical organizations are in opposition to Prop 4, including the California Medical Association, the California Nurses Association, the California Association of Family Physicians and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Some opponents of Prop 4 see it as an attack on Roe v. Wade and abortion rights. If the main concern is unwanted pregnancies, sex education curriculum – and not necessarily abortion – should be re-examined.