Mountain View Voice

- October 10, 2008

Prop. 4 requires parental notification in teen abortions

by Casey Weiss

For the third time in four years, California residents will vote Nov. 4 on a parental notification law, which if passed would require that a minor's parents be informed 48 hours before she receives an abortion.

Proposition 4 holds a slim lead according to a September field poll, and local voters on each side are scrambling to get the word out with only a few weeks until the election.

If Californians vote yes on Prop. 4, a teenager could not receive an abortion until at least 48 hours after her parents were notified. Under the proposition, a doctor would be required to inform the parent or another adult family member, or be charged with a misdemeanor and face civil action from the parents or the child's representative. A judge could waive the notification requirement under special circumstances.

Opponents say the proposition looks good on paper, but does not consider teenagers who come from abusive families or cases involving incest. If a minor successfully navigates the court system, she would have to say her parents abuse her in order to receive a waiver, according to Fran Linkin of Mar Monte Planned Parenthood in San Jose, who opposes the proposition.

"Police will go to that same door she didn't want police officers going to in order to investigate abuse," Linkin said. "Teens are just not going to come in and instead do something desperate because of this law."

Linkin said the law is trying to "fix something that is not broken. ... If teens come from a safe home, they normally bring their parents."

Willie Lapus, who runs the Juan Diego Women's Center, a Catholic pregnancy center in San Jose for women in trouble, celebrated the lead.

The current law "makes no sense," he said. "If you have a young girl who is about to undergo a major operation, it makes sense that a family member knows."

Paul Laubacher, a spokesperson for the Yes on Prop. 4 campaign, said the measure follows the lead of dozens of other states in protecting minors. Supporters named the proposition "Sarah's Law," after a 15-year-old girl who received an abortion from a women's clinic and later died from an infection.

"This proposition would bring protection to families that isn't in the public policy arena," Laubacher said.

E-mail Casey Weiss at cweiss@mv-voice.com

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