Opponents of Proposition 73 Voice Concerns Over Public Statistics on Judicial Waivers
Some opponents of Proposition 73 are expressing concerns about a provision in the proposed amendment that would require courts to publicly report how judges rule on petitions for waivers to the parental notification measure, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/26).
Proposition 73, which appears on the Nov. 8 special election ballot, would amend the state constitution to require health care providers to inform a parent or guardian 48 hours before performing an abortion on an unmarried minor. Under the measure, a girl could seek a judicial bypass and would receive no-cost legal counsel, a confidential hearing and a ruling within three days on whether she could receive an abortion without notifying her parents (California Healthline, 10/25).
The judge could issue a waiver if there is evidence that the minor is "sufficiently mature and well-informed" to decide whether to obtain an abortion and if it would not be in the girl's best interest to notify a parent or guardian of the abortion. The hearings would be held in Juvenile Court.
Courts would be required to publicly report annually the number of cases in which each judge has granted waivers and denied waivers (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/26).
Proposition 73 also includes an exception for parental notification if a doctor determines that an abortion is needed to prevent the patient's death or if a delay would "create serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function" (California Healthline, 10/25).
In other Proposition 73 news, the Riverside Press-Enterprise on Tuesday examined students' viewpoints on parental notification.
Some students at Lincoln High School in Riverside said a parental notification requirement could lead some minors to seek abortions in Mexico or take unsafe action with the aim of inducing a miscarriage. In addition, some students said some minors might be afraid to tell their parents about a pregnancy.
However, some students said parents should be informed of their children's health care and that students should know their parents' opinions before obtaining an abortion (Vitucci/Dearmond, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 10/25).
The Fresno Bee recently published two opinion pieces on Proposition 73 as part of an ongoing series of commentaries on propositions on the Nov. 8 ballot. Summaries appear below.
- Nancy Bleile: Proposition 73 would offer "no real solutions and no real tools to break down" the "real barriers that block communication" between teens and parents on "the sensitive issues of sexuality and pregnancy," Bleile -- a family physician and preceptor in the Adolescent Medicine Program at the University of California-San Francisco/Fresno -- writes in a Bee opinion piece. She concludes, "I urge you to join me and vote 'no' on Proposition 73" (Bleile, Fresno Bee, 10/25).
- Robert Pennington: "If 'knowledge is power,' then California parents are currently powerless, and our minor daughters are paying the price in a variety of ways," Pennington, executive director of Right to Life of Central California, writes in a Bee opinion piece. He writes that "abortion itself, compounded by youth and secrecy, is the true risk to our minors," concluding that Proposition 73 is a "common sense, pro-parent, pro-family and pro-child initiative" (Pennington, Fresno Bee, 10/25).
"When it comes to an unplanned pregnancy, delay is not a good thing," Ann Dubay, an editorial writer for the Santa Rosa Santa Rosa Press Democrat, writes in an opinion piece. Proposition 73 will "make teen pregnancy more dangerous," Dubay writes, adding, "For teens who choose abortion, the longer the delay, the more complicated the procedure becomes" (Dubay, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 10/23).
Additional information on Proposition 73 is available online.