Parental notification initiative fails in close race
Prop. 4 falls short at polls for third time since 2005
Published: Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Updated: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 00:11
Proposition 4, a ballot initiative that would require doctors to notify parents of minors seeking abortions, was defeated, according to results released by the Secretary of State Nov. 4.
The initiative, which was placed on the ballot by a UC Davis professor, would have required a doctor to notify the parents or legal guardian of an unemancipated minor at least 48 hours before performing an abortion. Although a parent may object, the girl still would have the right to an abortion.
"For me, speaking as an individual, I was happy to see it did not pass," said Maryanne Werner-McCullough, nursing director at Contra Costa College.
"I felt one of the most compelling arguments was that of underage people feeling uncomfortable talking to their parents because they are abusive or unapproachable."
In 2005 and 2006, voters also rejected parental notification measures.
According to Shanie Scott, legislative affairs director for Planned Parenthood in Shasta- Diablo, a similar proposition was voted down in 2005 by about 5 points and in 2006 by about 8 points.
This year, opponents gathered 52.1 percent of the votes.
The proposition did offer a few exceptions, including if the girl lives with an abusive family. Such an instance would allow notification of another adult relative instead.
Parental notification also may be waived if the girl succeeds in persuading a juvenile court to forgo the notification or if the girl is undergoing a medical emergency.
Some opponents of Proposition 4 said they believed the ultimate goal of supporters was to reverse Roe v. Wade, a United States Supreme Court case which overturned all state and federal laws outlawing or restricting abortion.
"I do think Proposition 4 was being used as a stepping stone to overturn Roe v. Wade," English department chairwoman Joy Eichner-Lynch said. "(Voting against) this proposition was very difficult for me, because I do believe in parental responsibility for children, but I also believe we have to uphold the right of the minor female because women's rights to their bodies across the board are being attacked."
Theater arts major Devario Bennett, however, said, "If I was a parent, I'd like to know if my child was having an abortion. Especially if something goes wrong, because not all abortions come off successfully."
Other students were unsure of their stance.
"I'm kind of borderline. I would want to make that decision without having to tell my parents if I was in that situation, but at the same time if it was my child I'd want them to come to me," psychology major Shavon McDaniels said.
Thirty-five other states currently enforce parental consent or notification laws.
Contact Regina Sarnicola at firstname.lastname@example.org.