Parental Notification, Redistricting Ballot Measures Fail in California

In an impressive victory for women’s health advocates, voters in California defeated a ballot measure (proposition 73) that would have required doctors to notify the parents of young women under the age of 18 before performing an abortion. The proposal, endorsed by Governor Schwarzenegger, was defeated 52.6 percent of 47.4 percent.

Funding in support of the measure came from wealthy abortion opponents, including James Holman, publisher of the San Diego News Notes and several Catholic newspapers, who was arrested at a San Diego clinic protest in 1990; Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza, many right-wing organizations, and an ultraconservative Catholic college; and Don Sebastiani, a former California legislator and owner of the Sebastiani wine label, Ms. magazine reports. As the election drew near, supporters of Proposition 73 organized in evangelical and Catholic churches across California.

The Feminist Majority opposed the measure, along with the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, the California Medical Association, the California Nurses Association, and other health and reproductive rights organizations.

The parental notification measure was widely viewed as an attempt to bring conservative voters to the polls who would support four ultimately failed Schwarzenegger-backed measures – proposals to give the power of redistricting to a panel of retired judges instead of the legislature (currently controlled by Democrats); restrict union politics; give the governor more power over the state budget; and lengthen the time it takes for a teacher to acquire tenure. Gov. Schwarzenegger, who put in $7.2 million of his own money to support these four failed ballot measures and campaigned tirelessly for them, was resoundingly defeated. Organized labor in California, the target of one of Schwarzenegger’s ballot measures, vowed to seek revenge when the governor runs for reelection next year, the Los Angeles Times reports. Women’s groups, labor, young women, and Democrats were the big victors in yesterday’s election.

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LA Times 11/9/05, 11/7/05; CA Secretary of State election results 11/8/05; San Francisco Chronicle 11/8/05; Ms. magazine Fall 2005

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