Ballot Proposal To Notify Parents For Under-18 Abortions Falls Short Of Signatures

A California initiative to require parents to be notified before girls under 18 can get an abortion appears unlikely to qualify for the November ballot.

Despite more than $1 million in contributions from wealthy anti-abortion advocates, supporters have collected less than a quarter of the 585,407 signatures they need to qualify the initiative before their March 15 deadline, according to the California Secretary of State’s office.

Supporters of a similarly-worded parental notification measure also lag in gathering enough signatures before their April 13 deadline.

Californians for Parental Rights, which supports the measures, stopped its paid signature gathering several weeks ago, two contractors told Kaiser Health News.

“It died on the vine,” said Rob Harwig, one of the petition gathering contractors. “The funders just pulled out.”

The measure’s official proponents, Stephen Hicks of Californians for Parental Rights, and John Smith, whose affiliation is unknown, did not respond to several requests for comment.

Californians for Parental Rights, based in Coronado, California, sent out an “urgent” email on March 1 asking volunteers to return any signatures they’d gathered.

The measures’ near-certain failure to qualify for the November ballot is a relief for the state’s pro-abortion rights advocates, who were prepared to launch an expensive counter-campaign as they have in years past.

The proposed initiative would have amended California’s constitution to prohibit medical professionals from providing abortions to most minors unless they notified the minor’s parent or guardian in writing. The measure imposed a two-day waiting period but provided exceptions for a medical emergency, the parent’s permission or documented parental abuse. Minors who didn’t want their parents notified would have to appear before a judge to prove “maturity or best interest.”

Parental notification supporters believe parents should be informed about their daughters’ important medical procedures and note that underage girls cannot get tattoos or ear-piercings without parents’ consent. Opponents say that measure’s waiting periods and judicial review procedures result in delays that can make abortions more costly and medically complicated.

A state analysis of the measure found each would cost up to several millions of dollars annually to implement the restrictions.

Parental notification laws are common across the nation, with 38 states implementing them, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

But in California, when parental notification advocates have succeeded in putting measures on the state ballot in 2005, 2006 and 2008, voters have rejected them every time.

“We are tentatively excited about the fact that this initiative is not going to appear on ballot again for the fourth time. California voters have spoken three times before on this proposal and have rejected it soundly,” said Lupe Rodriguez, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s separate lobbying and health care organizations. “We’re glad that California voters have recognized the danger in this initiative. We have to keep teens safe who cannot talk to their parents, and that’s who this is about.”

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