Don’t turn back the clock

Parental-involvement laws don’t stop teens from getting pregnant. They don’t result in fewer abortions. They don’t turn dysfunctional families into healthy ones. They only serve to increase the risks faced by the most vulnerable pregnant teens—and to chip away at the rights of all women. That’s why Proposition 73 must be defeated.

Thanks to a trio of well-heeled anti-abortion activists and the paid signature gatherers they were able to hire, the ballot for the November 8 special election will include Proposition 73. If passed, this would amend the state constitution to require health-care providers to notify the parents when women under the age of 18 request an abortion. It would require a waiting period of 48 hours before care could be administered, mandate that caregivers report abortions to the state, and put language defining abortion as the killing of an unborn child into the state constitution.

Proponents argue that the results would be that teens would be discouraged from sexual activity; sexual predators would stay away from young girls; abortions would decline; and, spurred by a government notice, families would come together to discuss the best options in the event of an unanticipated pregnancy.

The facts are that parental-involvement laws have never been shown to decrease sexual activity or abortion. They have been passed in more than 30 states, and studied thoroughly, and the results are well-known. The California Supreme Court has ruled such laws unconstitutional, in part because research showed that they “do not reduce teen pregnancy rates and do inflict serious harm.” In a 2004 study, the conservative Heritage Foundation also concluded that parental-involvement laws do not significantly affect abortion rates.

And it’s simply ridiculous to argue, as the proposition’s proponents do, that sexual predators would be deterred by the idea that their victims would not be able to have a secret abortion to cover their crimes. Just as absurd is the notion that passage of this constitutional amendment would somehow force families to communicate. Most young women do consult with their parents when facing an unwanted pregnancy, and those who are afraid to do so frequently have good reasons for their fears. Often, they come from dysfunctional families and know that disclosure might lead to being kicked out, beaten or worse. To argue that a notice from the government would lead to a compassionate, rational discussion defies common sense.

So, let’s be honest: The real goal here is not to bring families together. It’s to undermine women’s rights.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the proposition’s provision that would put language defining abortion as causing “the death of the unborn child, a child conceived but not yet born” into the state constitution. This stipulation has nothing to do with parental notification and everything to do with paving the way for future court challenges.

It’s been more than 30 years since Roe v. Wade established access to safe, legal abortion as part of the reproductive rights of all women. Let’s not turn back the clock. Let’s defeat Proposition 73.