Keep ’em safe—no on 85

Katharyn McLearan is the director of public affairs, Sacramento Region Planned Parenthood Mar Monte

This November, voters once again will have an opportunity to defeat an initiative that threatens the safety of thousands of California’s teens: Proposition 85, the so-called parental-notification initiative.

Parents rightfully want to be involved in teens’ lives, and most of us are. But no law can force every family to communicate. The good news is that a majority of teens already involve their parents in decisions about an unintended pregnancy.

But for those who don’t, there is generally a really good reason why they can’t. In the real world, a teen may fear being kicked out of her home or face violence should she disclose to her family that she’s pregnant. Even worse, a family member may have caused the pregnancy. She can’t go to her parents.

Prop. 85 could force such vulnerable teens to delay medical care or turn to self-induced or illegal back-alley abortions. Some may even consider suicide.

Prop. 85’s proponents say that teens in abusive situations can just seek a court waiver if they can’t talk to their parents. Think about it. She’s pregnant, and she’s scared. She’s not going to wade through a crowded court system. Teens don’t need a judge; they need a counselor and medical care without delays.

That’s why doctors, nurses and teachers—including the California Medical Association; the California Nurses Association; the California Teachers Association; Planned Parenthood; and the American Academy of Pediatrics, California—oppose Prop. 85.

To understand the real political agenda behind Prop. 85, take a look at its proponents: The Traditional Values Coalition, Evangelicals for Social Action and Right to Life of Central California are the same people who lobby to overturn Roe v. Wade and ban all abortions.

Californians know that the real answer to teen pregnancy and abortion is strong, caring families and comprehensive sex education—including abstinence and access to contraception—not new laws that would harm our teens.

It might sound reasonable, but Prop. 85 will put thousands of our most vulnerable teens at risk. That’s why doctors, nurses, teachers and parents all urge Californians to vote no on Prop. 85 this November. Visit for more information or to volunteer.