By Tenzin Shakya
Published: Thursday, October 23, 2008 on the DVC Inquirer
For the third time in four years, voters will decide whether parental notification should be required before a pregnant minor can have an abortion.
DVC student Chemi Subhar, 21, says she plans to vote in favor of Proposition 4, even though she believes in a woman’s right to have an abortion. “However, of you are a minor,” Subhar said, “your parents should be notified because abortion is a huge issue that should be talked about with your family.”
But Misty Sales, a senior vice president with Planned Parenthood of Shasta Diablo, said studies show that most teens do go to their parents before seeking an abortion.
“But some don’t because they are afraid to involve their parents for whatever reason,” Sales said. “Those are the vulnerable girls that are going to be hurt by Proposition 4.” If approved by voters, a pregnant minor who did not want her parents notified would have two options: 1) go to court and convince a judge to issue a waiver; or 2) have an adult family member write a statement that, “she fears physical, sexual, or severe emotional abuse from [her parent…and her fear is based on pattern of physical, sexual, or severe emotional abuse exhibited by a parent.” Exceptions would be made for medical emergencies.
In 2005, Proposition 73, which also required parental notification for minors seeking an abortion, failed with 47.3 percent of Californians voting yes and 53.7 percent voting no. In 2006, the same ballot initiative showed up again as Proposition 85 and failed once again by nearly the same percentage. This time around, proponents wrote into Proposition 4 that a minor could bypass the parental notification process by going before a judge, to receive a waiver and have a choice to contact another adult family member if not the parents.
On Sept. 26, 2008 a Field poll of San Francisco released statistics stating that 49 percent of likely voters intended to vote yes, with 41 percent voting no and 10 percent undecided. Proposition 4 is backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, state Sen. Tom McClintock of Thousand Oaks, former Assemblywoman Varbara Alby of Sacramento and half a dozen state legislators from Sothern California.
Opponents of Proposition 4 include Planned Parenthood and affiliates, California Association of School Counselors, California Federation of Teachers as well as the mayors of Berkeley, Pleasanton, San Leandro and San Francisco.
Paul Laubacher, an ICU nurse in Sacramento and a volunteer with “YesOn4” said, “All other surgeries on minors require parental notification under the public health care policy.”
The father of two daughters, Laubacher said parents need to be notified so they have a heads-up on their minor daughters’ lives. Proponents also say it is needed to protect minor females from being coerced by older “predators” into getting an abortion to cover up statutory rape.
Marcy reed, 22, a Contra Costa College District student (who did not want her real name used), said she supports Proposition 4, because she had an abortion at age 17 without her parents’ knowledge. Only after the abortion did she learn she had been carrying twins.
“That was information that should have been given to me before, or not at all, Reed said.”I strongly believe that if the notification law had been applied to me before, my parents could have helped me deal with it.” But Amy Laungrath, 22, a DVC student, said the government should not have any say in the right to a teen’s privacy. “It’s your body and you have a God given right to your body’s privacy,” Luangrath said. “The constitution at the moment supports my belief.”
Opponents also argue it could lead to minors seeking out more harmful measure to end the pregnancy, including an illegal abortion. They also emphasize that the required notification could put a pregnant minor at even a greater risk, if she is already facing parental abuse at home.
Scott MacDougall, who teaches political science at DVC, said, “If voting no on Proposition 4 opposes the government having a say in family matters, then I’m voting no.”
MacDougal said he would hope his daughter would come to him in such a situation.