Parental Notification Measure Galvanizes Voter-Turnout Efforts, Interest in Other Measures
Churches, women's groups and other organizations with strong views about Proposition 73 are focusing on increasing turnout for the Nov. 8 special election, and the effectiveness of these groups' efforts could have ramifications for other ballot measures proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), the Sacramento Bee reports (Hecht, Sacramento Bee, 10/30).
Proposition 73 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, 10/28).
In one effort favoring Proposition 73, the California Catholic Conference has prepared a series of homilies for priests to use to mark October as "Respect Life" month. Father Richard Benson, academic dean and moral theology chair for St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, in suggested "homily notes" for priests, wrote, "Proposition 73 is family-oriented, pro-life and promotes the culture of life."
In addition, the Traditional Values Coalition is printing 100,000 slate mailers for evangelical churches, which state, "We must not let Planned Parenthood and their baby-killing allies dominate at the polls."
Benjamin Lopez, a lobbyist for TVC, said the mailers also urge Christian conservatives to vote "yes" on Propositions 74, 75, 76 and 77, all of which Schwarzenegger supports.
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood, advocacy groups and the No on 73 "Campaign for Teen Safety" are urging people to vote against Proposition 73. They have organized a telephone campaign to encourage "younger, urban women" to vote, the Bee reports.
In addition, the official California Democratic Party recommendations state that Proposition 73 is "just the latest attempt by right-wing conservatives to take away a woman's right to choose." The party slate also urges "no" votes on Propositions 74, 75, 76 and 77 (Sacramento Bee, 10/30).
Although a 2004 poll found that a majority of Californians support legal abortions, supporters of Proposition 73 "seem to have hit a sensitive nerve among voters," including an endorsement by Schwarzenegger, who has said he supports abortion rights, the Orange County Register reports.
University of Southern California political scientist Sherry Bebitch Jeffe said antiabortion groups are focusing on what they consider a potentially winning battle, despite California residents' overall position on abortion. Bebitch Jeffe said, "California is strongly pro-choice, but there is an increasing feeling that there should be some restrictions. Prop. 73 is part of a strategy to nibble around the edges of Roe v. Wade," the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that barred state abortion bans (Wisckol, Orange County Register, 10/31).
According to the Contra Costa Times, Proposition 73 "is the black sheep" of the special election in part because it is not part of Schwarzenegger's "stated agenda" despite receiving an endorsement from the governor.
Jack Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College, said, "The rest of the propositions deal with economic or political self-interest," adding, "This one deals with much deeper moral issues" (LaMar, Contra Costa Times, 10/31).
Proposition 73 "is designed to protect the health and safety of young children by restoring a parent's right to know what is happening medically to their youngsters," Phil Wyman -- chair of the Tehachapi Mountain Foundation and a former state senator and member of the Assembly -- writes in a Bakersfield Californian opinion piece. According to Wyman, Proposition 73 "does nothing to overturn Roe vs. Wade or jeopardize a woman's right to choose" and "doesn't even require parental approval of an abortion" (Wyman, Bakersfield Californian, 10/28).
KQED's "The California Report" on Friday reported on Proposition 73. The segment includes comments from:
- Leonard Edwards, supervising judge of Santa Clara County's Juvenile Court;
- Karen Hardy, a coordinator for Proposition 73 in Santa Clara County;
- Anne Foster-Rosales, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood Golden Gate;
- Barbara Staggers, director of adolescent medicine at Children's Hospital; and
- Counselors and teenage students at a California high school health center (Shafer, "The California Report," KQED, 10/28).
Additional information on Proposition 73 is available online. This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.