Parental notification can help stop statutory rape, child molestation

Proposition 85
Parental notification can help stop statutory rape, child molestation

By Edith BlackReturn to Important Update on Calif. Prop 85.

 Often overlooked in the debate about the parental notification initiative (Proposition 85 on the November ballot) is the effect it would have in deterring the statutory rape and child molestation that are responsible for so many minor teenage pregnancies.

All states have laws prohibiting sexual activity between minors and adults. In California the statutory rape law covers girls under 16 while the child molestation laws cover girls between 16 and 18.

Yet studies across the country are now showing that most minor teenage pregnancies are the result of girls’ sexual activity with adult men, not with their teenage peers. In California a study of 46,000 pregnant teenage girls showed that 71 percent of them were impregnated by adult men whose mean age was 22.6 years.

Such sexual predators generally try to cover up their crime by arranging for their victim to have an abortion, sometimes even coercing them. Or the minor reports her pregnancy to a health professional, such as a school nurse, and, despite California mandatory reporting laws, is escorted to an abortion clinic with no prying questions asked.

Having gone through the mandatory reporting training myself, I know that California law requires all professionals, including health professionals, to report to appropriate government authorities any suspicious situation. It is then the responsibility of the authority to investigate the facts to determine whether a crime has indeed occurred.

Yet it is standard practice with health professionals involved with the abortion industry not to comply with these laws. This fact has been well-documented by an organization called Life Dynamics, whose full report is online at

Life Dynamics decided to conduct its own test after examining statistical evidence indicating that Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Federation facilities have an over 90 percent rate of failure to comply with mandatory reporting laws.

A young woman portraying herself as a 13-year-old girl impregnated by her 22-year-old boyfriend called over 800 Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Federation facilities across the country. The calls were made from Texas where conversations can be legally taped without informing the other party.

As can be heard on tapes played on the website, she explicitly told each one that she wanted an abortion because she and her boyfriend did not want her parents to find out about the sexual relationship. She never suggested her parents would be come abusive if they discovered her sexual activity.

Even though many of the clinic workers openly acknowledged that this situation was illegal and that they were required to report it to the state authorities, 91 percent of them advised her on how to conceal the crime. She was often counseled not to reveal her own age or the age of her boyfriend when she came in for the abortion, or was given the number of another clinic and told not to be so forthcoming there.

Some even counseled her how to circumvent parental involvement laws by, for example, bringing in an older adult who would pose as her parent.

To appreciate the seriousness of this situation, we need to ask ourselves how we would react if we knew that an employee of a store was giving minors advice on how to circumvent laws prohibiting them from buying alcohol and tobacco or that a gun dealer was teaching minors how to purchase handguns.

Proposition 85 attempts to address a similar outrageous flaunting of the law. It will bring such crimes to light by requiring that abortion providers notify a minor’s parent or, in the case of a judicial bypass, a juvenile Court judge, who would be more likely to report a violation of the law.

That the proposition will deter sexual predation is indicated by the track record of the 34 states which already have parental involvement laws. Generally, a year or two after a parental notification law goes into effect, there is a significant reduction in teenage pregnancies and abortions.

The abortion rate for minors dropped 25.6 percent in the two years following the enactment of a parental involvement law in Virginia. Pennsylvania’s teen pregnancy rate fell by 18.7 percent following the enactment of a similar law. The California Legislative Analyst has estimated that parental notification could reduce abortion rates in California by up to 25 percent.

(Edith Black is one of the state coordinators of California Democrats for Life and on the steering committee of Catholics for the Common Good. She is a member of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Oakland and works with children as an environmental educator.)

Return to Important Update on Calif. Prop 85.

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