Tight Race for California’s Parental Notification Proposition

A new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California has found that opposition to the state’s Proposition 4 on the November ballot-which would require parental notification before young women under 18 could get abortions-is growing, but the No on 4 campaign still lags behind.

The current numbers are 46 percent of voters in favor, 44 percent against, 10 percent unsure. In September, a Field Poll showed 49 percent in favor, 41 percent opposed. Perhaps voters are being persuaded by a new No on 4 television ad that urges voters to “think outside your bubble,” or by a wide range of No on 4 endorsements from major newspapers and medical, legal and women’s rights groups.

Proposition 4 is the third California initiative of its kind since 2005; the other two were easily defeated. If passed, it would amend the state constitution to require physicians to notify a minor’s parents 48 hours before performing an abortion. A pregnant teen would be allowed to inform an alternative family member instead, but if so she would also have to formally accuse her parents of child abuse–an accusation that would be automatically reported to authorities.

“This law is very misleading,” Dr. Sophia Yen, a pediatrician at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, told Asian American community leaders and physicians protesting the initiative, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle. “Rather than tell their parents, young people will buy Internet drugs to end the pregnancy, they will go to Mexico for an abortion, they will throw themselves down the stairs, they will do desperate things.”


San Francisco Chronicle 10/23/08; www.noonprop4.org; Feminist Daily Newswire 9/29/08.

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