Some Groups Voice Concerns About Provisions of Parental Notification Measure
Some judges and doctors are voicing concerns about Proposition 73, a measure on the Nov. 8 special election that 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, the Sacramento Bee reports (Hecht, Sacramento Bee, 10/24).
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, 9/29).
For example, Michael Nash, president of the Juvenile Court Judges of California and presiding Juvenile Court Judge in Los Angeles, said the measure does not include adequate legal standards to inform judges' rulings on waiver petitions. He said, "I have to find by clear and convincing evidence that the minor is mature enough to decide whether to have an abortion," adding, "What standards do I have for that?"
However, Stan Devereux, a spokesperson for the campaign in favor of Proposition 73, said, "If judges read the legal terms, it's an easy call," adding, "If they can't make this kind of decision, perhaps they shouldn't be on the bench."
Proposition 73 also would require doctors to report statistics on abortions to the Department of Health Services, including the doctor's name and the date and location of where the abortion was performed. In addition, doctors would be required to provide to DHS the month and year of a minor patient's birth, but patients' names would not be reported.
Proposition 73 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, 9/29).
Dr. Ruth Haskins, a legislative committee member for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said that doctors "are going to be very reluctant to put our names on a state form and say, 'I performed an abortion on a minor'" (Sacramento Bee, 10/24).
Newspapers recently examined provisions of Proposition 73. Headlines appear below.
AP/Grass Valley Union, "Proposition 73: Wording of Abortion Measure Worries Abortion Rights Advocates" (Leff, AP/Grass Valley Union, 10/22).
Orange County Register, "Abortion Debates' Message: Both Sides of Prop. 73 Agree Parental Consent To Reduce California's Teen Abortion Will Likely Stir Going Out of State for Surgery" (Wisckol, Orange County Register, 10/22).
San Jose Mercury News, "Abortion Measure Sparks Debate: Parents of Minors Would Be Notified" (LaMar, San Jose Mercury News, 10/21).
Several newspapers also published editorials and opinion pieces about Proposition 73. Summaries appear below.
- Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee: "If Proposition 73 gains voter approval, it almost certainly sets the stage for prolonged litigation," Sacramento Bee columnist Walters writes (Walters, Sacramento Bee, 10/23).
- Scott Herhold, San Jose Mercury News: "Proposition 73 is a bad law," Herhold writes, adding that it "could impose cumbersome reporting requirements on doctors" and "se[t] up a complicated court process for pregnant teens to bypass consent" (Herhold, San Jose Mercury News, 10/23).
- Santa Rosa Press Democrat: The Press Democrat recommends voting "no" on Proposition 73. "We all wish for a world of loving families, where without exceptions a pregnant girl could receive the support and counsel she needed. Sadly, neither wishing nor Proposition 73 can make it so," the editorial states (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 10/21).
KQED's "Forum" on Monday in the first hour of the broadcast is scheduled to include a discussion of Proposition 73. Guests on the program are scheduled to include:
- Maggie Crosby, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, which opposes Proposition 73;
- Karen England, executive director of the Capitol Resource Institute, which supports the measure; and
- Albin Rhomberg, a spokesperson for Parents' Right to Know, which supports Proposition 73 (Krasny, "Forum," KQED, 10/24).
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.