Patterico's Pontifications


Yes on Proposition 4: Parents Should Be Told If Their Daughter Wants an Abortion

Filed under: 2008 Election,Abortion,General — Patterico @ 8:52 pm

I support Proposition 4, the proposition requiring parental notification for minors seeking abortions.

In a September article, the Los Angeles Times quoted backer Don Sebastiani, who sums up my position well:

“It’s insane,” Sebastiani said. “I’m completely mystified that you need to get a mom’s permission to get an aspirin at school, you need to get a mom’s permission to go to a tanning salon, but you can go in and have your baby aborted [without notification]. Something is wrong.”


Previous measures have failed because of concerns that abusive parents could put young women at risk — especially if the dad is the father of the baby to be aborted. The Los Angeles Times article reports that this measure has been refined to address that concern:

[T]he latest proposal was revised to allow the required notification to be made to other adult family members, such as a grandparent or sibling, if the attending physician reports known or suspected child abuse by the parent to law enforcement or a child protective services agency.

It also would allow judges to waive the notice requirement based on evidence of the minor’s maturity or best interest in having an abortion.

A parent also could give a minor a written note ahead of time waiving notification, and waivers would be allowed in medical emergencies.

I don’t think you have to be a religious, fervent pro-lifer to vote for this proposition. I’m not religious, and I’m conflicted about abortion as a policy matter. But I don’t see why abortion should be uniquely free of parental involvement, and it seems to me that only pro-choice zealots can seriously oppose a common-sense measure like this.

Parents generally are able to offer wisdom to their children on important life issues. Abortion is no different. Parents have a perspective on life that immature teenagers simply don’t have. The state should not be in the business of driving a wedge between children and their parents, and indeed has a responsibility to ensure that doctors do not interfere in the parent-child relationship either.

Yes on Proposition 4.

26 Responses to “Yes on Proposition 4: Parents Should Be Told If Their Daughter Wants an Abortion”

  1. In case anyone cares, while a state senator, Obama voted against just such a bill.

    rockdalian (505dea)

  2. My only hesitation is this is not a parental notification law, but a parental consent law.

    I say: of course parents should have to give consent for an abortion! you can’t get a tattoo without parental consent.

    My husband says: but a parent couldn’t deny a daughter an emergency appendectomy. The daughter’s rights do sometimes override the parent’s wishes.

    I’m voting yes, if for no other reason than to give the state notice that abortion for minors should not be treated as a special case, different than other surgical procedures for teen girls.

    MayBee (3114aa)

  3. My only hesitation is this is not a parental notification law, but a parental consent law.

    No, it isn’t. It’s notification.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  4. Oh no, you’re right Patterico.
    I saw this: Requires minor’s consent to abortion, with exceptions.

    and misread it.

    MayBee (3114aa)

  5. Opposition to Parental Notification laws concerning abortion infuriates me. I am generally in favor of abortion staying legal, but when “Pro-Choice” activists bleat about ‘Abortion Rights’ and then turn around and oppose Parental Notification, they deserve to lose. I don’t care how right you are, politics is the art of the possible. It is political suicide to oppose Parental Notification for the same immutable reasons that one also doesn’t run as an Orange candidate in Dublin. Period. These twits are endangering the core issue by being doctrinaire swine about an indefensible minor side position.

    The “What if the girl’s father is abusing her” scenario strikes me as one of the biggest red herring excuses in Politics. As I understand it, under our system of Law, the thing to do in such as case would not be to sneak the girl to an abortionist, but to take her before a Judge and have her made a ward of the court …. prior to charging the father with child abuse and doing one’s best to fry his ass. The people opposing Parental Notification laws simply don’t want to acknowledge that the Parents (if they are not seriously abusive) have a superior claim to be the primary decision-makers for the child. Nor do they want to acknowledge that that position puts them in opposition to most of society. They need to wake up.

    C. S. P. Schofield (2f879a)

  6. I’ve often said that the “Abortion Right” is ironically the only absolute Constitutional Right. Even the right to avoid self-incrimination seems more limited.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  7. I should point out that any teen-age guy who has crashed dad’s car could make all the same arguments for the state helping to secretly fix same. Some actions SHOULD have consequences.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  8. It is political suicide to oppose Parental Notification

    Since the voters of this state have voted parental notification initiatives down twice in the last four years, it seems like a stretch to say that it’s political suicide to oppose parental notification: a majority of voting Californians have done so, twice!

    Which isn’t to say that majority was right; just that it’s large enough that opposition to notification is not an automatic ticket to the unelectable squad.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  9. it seems to me that only pro-choice zealots can seriously oppose a common-sense measure like this.

    Exactly. In the pro-abortion world, the only abortions taking place are severely deformed babies and teenagers raped by their fathers. The reality, of course, is so much different. And tell me, why exactly would a father who rapes his daughter not want her to get an abortion? A baby would be evidence. And a criminal always wants to get rid of the evidence…

    SAZMD (0949b6)

  10. Patrick, I agree with you on this one.

    Kids in school have to get their parents permission to get a friggin aspirin, but yet they could conceivably get an abortion without their parents being notified?

    I think not!

    thebronze (8157cf)

  11. I have very mixed feelings on this one.
    On the one hand, I’d kind of like to see abortion for minors given the same treatment as any other invasive medical procedure, with neither special restrictions nor a special lack of restrictions.
    On the other hand… “potential for parental abuse” is not the same as “was raped by her father.” I can certainly imagine family situations which are not, strictly speaking, abusive, but in which the girl’s parents, if they knew she’d had an abortion, would lay a guilt trip on her for the rest of her time at home.
    In such cases, an apparently pro-family law could wind up having anti-family consequences, inducing girls to leave home early and shun, or be shunned by, their parents.

    Eric Wilner (3936fd)

  12. Opposing Parental Notification is political suicide not because it will end in quick defeat, but because it won’t go away and wastes political capitol that is needed elsewhere. While it is possible to defeat individual Parental Notification bills, this requires the expenditure of serious money and energy – usually far more than the other side expends on the same issue. And the battle is not ever over. The very nature of the position ensures that the opposition will try again. The idea that school officials or Planed Parenthood operatives will be obtaining abortions for underage girls pretty much guarantees that there will be a scandal that starts the whole cycle again. The only way to make the issue go away is to concede.

    Absent Parental Notification and Late Term (Partial Birth) Abortion, that doesn’t have to be true of Abortion in general. There will always be a small group that passionately opposes it, but on the whole the public doesn’t care that much. Which makes it abysmally stupid to fight over two sub-issues that the public tends to care about.

    I support legal abortion for adult women and early term pregnancies. I would support late-term abortion (I doubt that newborn is human, but can’t prove my position), if it didn’t endanger a more important position. It does. I’m not sure how I feel about Parental Notification as a purely moral issue, though I lean toward the Parental position. But it isn’t a purely moral issue, it is a political issue, and as a political issue the Pro-Choice/Anti-Notification stance is imbecilic.

    C. S. P. Schofield (2f879a)

  13. While I am in favor of a parental notification law, if Obama is elected this proposition would be nullified by the Free Choice Act which Obama pledged to enact by the end of February, 2009.
    Anyway, even in the absence of the Free Choice Act (which also annuls the ban on partial birth abortion), the ACLU will keep this issue tied up for years, until Obama’s choices on the Supreme Court (God forbid) decide that abortion, infanticide and euthanasia are all constitutional rights with no right by any legislature to limit or outlaw.

    eaglewingz08 (98291e)

  14. If it’s “legal”, I garuntee you that PP and other types will be busing 16 year olds to clinics and giving them the hard sell.

    After all, increased procedures increases their budgets.

    Oh, and no teacher has ever sexually abused a student, there’s no way THAT could possibly be missued. So when the 8th grad Pre-Algebra teacher finds out he knocked up the cheerleading co-captain in exchange for a passing grade and some payback for Suzie Doe dumping him 25 years ago, he can’t just whisk her away to the nearest convinent location.

    Techie (62bc5d)

  15. I’ve always thought that pregnancy (of a minor) was at least a partial emancipitory condition. A 16 year old girl choosing to keep her baby, for instance, can make decisions regarding her ob/gyn care independant of her parents. Once the baby is born, as a parent, it is her decision regarding pediatric care, etc. At least in my understanding of this…it is as it should be.

    But if she decides to kill it? Now she needs permission?

    I’ve always thought the pro-choice folks to be weird about this. A core necessity of the pro-choice movement is denying (or deliberately ignoring) the humanity of the fetus. It’s just a lump of cells. If so…then of course the girl needs parental permission to cut it out of her.

    Considering the fetus human (as is done when the girl wants to keep the baby)…gives her the primary say in its ‘care’ that the pro-choicers are looking for here.

    This is one of those areas where I think the pro-choice movement has painted themselves into a corner.

    Kurt (a7c3fb)

  16. Holy cow. I agree with this one.

    truthnjustice (c313be)

  17. tnj: Maybe you have been influenced by those other conservative sites you visit that you say are so much better than this one.

    kaf (bd0726)

  18. No, it isn’t. It’s notification.

    Patterico, I want to thank you again for posting this. I feel like you saved my husband’s vote. I read the text of the proposition wrong the first time and I’ve been going around spouting nonsense ever since. I corrected myself when I talked to him about it last night (he hasn’t read the literature yet).

    MayBee (3114aa)

  19. Patterico, I’ve been following your blog daily ever since you had your domain name problems. I very much like much of what you have to say on certain subjects, but in this case I completely disagree with you.

    Some families are so dysfunctional that telling one family member will certainly result in telling an abusive father or mother. In addition, many very strictly religious families, including some immigrants, will ostracize or perhaps even attempt an “honor killing” on the pregnant daughter.

    It seems to me that if Proposition 4 is not a solution in search of a problem, it will at the very least dramatically increase the vulnerability of society’s weakest.

    Abortion in certain circumstances is a decision best left to the young woman and her doctor.

    Nathan B. (d3f992)

  20. Nathan,

    I still think that if telling the girl’s family is putting her at risk, the proper thing to do is to take her before a Judge and make her a ward of the court. If it isn’t putting her at risk, then obtaining an abortion for a minor child without notifying her family is- at absolute best – awfully goddamned high-handed.

    In any case, your position is sure to outrage all the good parents in the State , and most of the bad ones. Which is why I compare it to running as an Orange candidate in Dublin; it wastes time and resources that you could better devote elsewhere. Yes, the Proposition may not pass … this time. If it doesn’t pass, it will be back. This one won’t go away.

    C. S. P. Schofield (2f879a)

  21. Kids in school have to get their parents permission to get a friggin aspirin…

    I think that is an outrage. What if the kid’s parents did something to annoy the kid and cause the headache?

    Xrlq (62cad4)

  22. C.S.P. Schofield, that’s an interesting response. I’m curious what the grounds are for making a child the ward of the State. Is suspicion enough? What if a child and doctor fear that something untoward may happen, but do not know?

    Also, as you may know, wards of the state often suffer abuse in their government-provided homes. The multiplication of entities beyond necessity is a bad thing; if the simplest solution is to have an abortion and remain with the parents, then why should the government get involved if the child and her doctor are not comfortable with that?

    The bottom line for me is that most good parents will raise their children well, love them, and have good communication channels with their children even after mistakes have been made. These parents don’t need this law, while the bad parents, whether they like the proposed law or not, won’t profit by it either.

    The group that stands the most to be affected by the law are vulnerable girls in abusive families, and I think the government really has no business intruding into their lives in this way.

    Nathan B. (285dcc)

  23. Yes, because being forced to have an unwanted Baby because your parents wont consent to the procedure won’t drive a wedge….


    Bobby (2e9cbd)

  24. Nathan – You are taking both sides of the argument. If a child is in an abusive home, don’t you want her out of there? Next you say the state shouldn’t intervene.

    Do you have trouble making up your mind or are you an extreme pro-choice partisan trying to justify your position?

    daleyrocks (60704b)

  25. Well, Daleyrocks, there are homes that aren’t abusive, but in which, if a child steps drastically out of line (say, by getting pregnant), severe consequences will result. Honor killings of young women are an example of this.

    Furthermore, there are homes that are mildly unpleasant, but being removed from one to a state-provided home would be similar to being moved from a warm frying pan and into a blazing fire. In such cases, perhaps it would be best if the teenage daughter simply waited a few years before moving out.

    I’m not arguing against moving children or teenagers from abusive homes, but I am in favor of doing nothing to bring the wrath of their sub-par parents on their heads.

    I still think the proposition is a solution in search of a problem.

    Nathan B. (d3f992)

  26. Nathan,

    If all you have is suspicion, I shouldn’t think that would be enough to get the girl a secret abortion, much less remove her from her family.

    In any case, the point is moot. The reality is that Parental Notification is an issue that will continue to be raised until some form of it is passed. The idea that some minor functionary at school, or at a clinic, can send their child to have an abortion WITHOUT NOTIFYING THEM, is going to continue to outrage most parents – good and bad alike. Nor am I convinced that they are wrong. The people I have talked to who provide Abortion referrals have been very tunnel-vision sure that Abortion is a one-size fits all solution. In fact, I will go further. I am convinced that, as Parental Notification laws spread, we are going to see many cases of girls smuggled across state lines to circumvent them … and that the idiots responsible will, for the most part, completely fail to understand what the fuss is about when they get caught.

    I want Abortion to be a legal option for adult women. Fighting Parental Notification laws doesn’t help that, and it takes money, time, and other resources that could be better used elsewhere.

    C. S. P. Schofield (2f879a)

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