Prop. 4: Parental Notification for Teenage Abortion

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Eldorado Hills mom, Daphney Hewitt, supports Proposition 4. She says it’s pretty simple. If her teenage daughter wanted to have an abortion she’d want to know about it. And, she thinks other parents would too.

“They would want to be notified if their daughter fell off the swing set at school, so how could they not want to be notified to have you know your unborn grandchild being basically aborted?"

The measure would require a doctor to notify a parent 48 hours before a girl under the age of 18 could get an abortion. Proposition 4 spokesperson Paul Laubacher is a Sacramento parent and Registered Nurse. He says unlike past ballot measures that failed this one would let teens notify another adult family member if they didn’t want to talk to a parent. He argues that for almost any other medical procedure minors need parental consent.

“This is just a vehicle so that you have sort of medical protections, surgical protections, before this operation is performed on a minor daughter.”  

Laubacher says he hopes Prop. 4 would increase communication in families while at the same time decreasing the number of teenage abortions.

But a stay-at-home mom in Roseville says the proposition would not do either of those things. Judy Cunningham volunteers for the No on Prop. 4 campaign.

“I think most parents would like to know, I would certainly like to know as well but my main concern would be that my child was safe and that they had access to safe and effective health care.” 
Sacramento pediatrician Dr. Liz Miller works at the UC Davis Medical Center. She often treats pregnant teens and says the proposition would backfire.   

“One of the most important reasons for adolescents seeking care is the promise of confidentiality so we have laws that allow minors to seek care for sensitive issues, such as pregnancy, sexual health and substance abuse because we know that will be the most important step for them to walk in our front door.”

More than 30 states have parental notification laws and Claire Brindis has studied them. She’s a professor of pediatrics and health policy at the University of California San Francisco. She testified as an independent researcher before state lawmakers about Proposition 4.

“The evidence points to the fact that government mandates around parent child communication does not work.” 
Brindis says often, teenagers delay medical care or get an abortion in nearby states without notification laws. She also says, under Prop. 4, in order for the teen to notify an alternate adult family member, she and her doctor would first have to report evidence of parental abuse. 

Unlike many other ballot measures it’s not about money but the always contentious debate over abortion rights.  Two similar initiatives have failed – this time around a recent Field Poll reports that Prop. 4 holds a slight lead with about 10 percent of voters undecided.