By Dolores Meehan
Note: This article was written as a response to an OpEd piece that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Thank you for your OpEd piece on Proposition 85. I have been following this issue very closely and appreciate your interest although I was surprised at some of the claims put forth in your article. Before addressing those claims, it is important to note an aspect of Proposition 85 on which you did not comment.
Proposition 85 will require that an abortion provider receive the consent of the teen, on whom the abortion is to be performed, before performing the abortion. This is huge, as 60% of women report that they were coerced is some way to have an abortion. A study conducted on 46,000 California teen mothers showed that over two-thirds had been impregnated by men having an average age of 22.6 years old. Parental involvement puts the ‘kabash’ on these predatory males. This aspect of Proposition 85 rightly appeals to women and men who identify themselves as pro-choice.
I would like to address three of your reasons why you think that voters should reject Proposition 85.
First your statement – “Instead of addressing the teenage pregnancy rate, which is the root of the problem and which continues to decline in California, this proposition seeks to punish the most vulnerable teenagers, fan hostility toward judges and chip away at Roe vs. Wade.”
Who are the most vulnerable teens? The most vulnerable teens are those teens who come from abusive homes and those teens who are victims of sexual abuse and statutory rape. Consider this, when a vulnerable teen is being sexually abused, and the result of her abuse, i.e. a pregnancy, is kept secret, her abuse is also kept secret. A teen who has been sexually abused is best served when she can be removed from the abusive situation, not sent back to it. Proposition 85 requires that Child Protective Services be involved, via the judicial bypass process, when abuse is stated as the reason for waiving parental notification. As with any other Juvenile Court proceeding, the proceeding is kept confidential and all records remained sealed
The threat to ROE – Parental Involvement laws are in effect in 34 U.S. States, including Massachusetts; some states have had them in effect for several decades. The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld Parental Involvement laws, with the condition that they include a judicial bypass, with no threat to Roe v. Wade.
Secondly, your statement – “But let’s start with the proposition’s broadest conceptual idea: The idea that in the event of a pregnancy, a minor should go to her parents for guidance and support. In some 80 percent of cases, that’s exactly what pregnant minors do, and we believe that it’s the ideal scenario.”
Actually, the single study, (Henshaw and Kost, Parental involvement in minors’ abortion decisions Family Planning Perspectives 1992; 24; 196-207, 213) that reports 61% (NOT 80%) of teens tell their parents anyway, is actually misleading. The author of this study himself testified that the claim that this study showed that most minors tell a parent was “entirely incorrect.” This study actually found that only 45% of minors told a parent; and another 16% were ‘found out’ by their parents after the fact, thus arriving at 61% of parents ‘knowing’ that their daughters had had an abortion.
However, whether 61% or 45%, it is not unreasonable that parents, who are ultimately responsible for the health and well-being, as well as the medical bills, of their daughter, should be involved when she is undergoing surgery. This commonsense point resonates well with pro-choice and pro-life individuals alike.
Finally, your statement – “… this provision holds great potential for anti-abortion zealots to use these statistics to intimidate judges with the threat of public shame and negative campaigning.”
To date, no judges from the 34 U.S. States have reported threats by ‘anti-abortion zealots’.
Parental involvement laws make sense, and they do work.
Dolores Meehan is co-organizer for the Walk for Life WC, the largest respect life event west of the Mississippi River.