The Left Coast Debates Abortion

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SignOnSanDiego.com | Proposition 73 divides voters over abortion:

Just three years ago, Gov. Gray Davis referred to California as "arguably the most pro-choice" state in the nation.

In the Nov. 8 special election, abortion opponents have their best chance in three decades of changing that designation.

Proposition 73 has sparked a highly charged battle that has evenly divided voters.

The measure requires a physician to notify a parent or guardian 48 hours before performing an abortion on a girl under 18 years old. It exempts girls who obtain a judicial waiver or face a medical emergency.


I blogged on this measure before. LAMom must be thrilled to finally have the opportunity to vote on a pro-life measure....

Proponents say the measure restores a role for parents in a critical decision.

"This is not about abortion. This is about parental rights," said Karen England, director of programs at the Capitol Resource Institute, a family advocacy group.

Yet, in some print ads, supporters tout the initiative as the first "pro-life measure to be voted on in the state of California."


It's about both. Parental-notification laws are certainly about parental rights. My kid can't get a lousy aspirin in school without a signed, notarized statement of permission, accompanied by DNA evidence ... but teenage girls can have abortion without telling their parents? It's just silly, self-contradictory, and irrational. We've created this zone around Sex that requires absolute privacy, no matter what the consequences. Wrong. As long as I am paying their bills, supporting them, and held responsible for how they grow, then I have an absolute right to know about any medical decision that my kids make. In fact, I should have a veto over that decision, unless my veto would literally kill them.

On the other hand, parental-notification & parental-consent laws are also about abortion. A study by the Heritage Foundation found a strong correlation between the passage of various pro-life measures in the states and a reduction in those states' abortion rates. Of parental-involvement laws, the study specifically notes:

Parental involvement laws appear somewhat less effective than the other types of public policies. In all four of the models, the coefficient for the parental involvement laws is negative, which is consistent with expectations. However, while some of the coefficients approach statistical significance, none actually reaches it. It should also be noted that parental involvement laws limit only the ability of minors to have abortions. Examining their impact on minors who undergo abortions, instead of all women who undergo abortions, would be a better test of the effectiveness of such laws. Even so, parental involvement laws do appear to reduce overall abortion rates and ratios, but their impact is less statistically certain than the impact of Medicaid funding restrictions and informed consent laws.

So parental-notification laws aren't the best way to reduce abortions, but they do seem to be somewhat effective in that regard.

Back to the article:

"California has had a pioneering and progressive tradition of furthering reproductive rights," said Margaret Crosby, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. "Passage of Proposition 73 would be a major blow to the reproductive rights movement nationally."

Crosby contends that a new definition of abortion tucked into Proposition 73 could threaten reproductive rights in California and even jeopardize the state's stem cell research program.

The measure, she said, would define an abortion for the first time in the state's constitution in a way that equates a fetus with a child. Under Proposition 73, an abortion is defined as causing the "death of the unborn child, a child conceived but not yet born."


The ACLU mouthpiece is really grasping at straws here. As one of my regular readers has mentioned before, it is perfectly possible to accept that abortion kills a child yet still remain pro-choice. Acknowledging the humanity of the unborn child is an important part of the pro-life argument, but it doesn't mean an automatic win.

Furthermore, the definition is simply correct. Dictionary.com provides an extensive list of definitions for "child", nearly all of which include unborn children. A zygote, embryo, or fetus is a child. That's not anti-choice propaganda; it's simple English. Therefore, Prop 73 is entirely correct to describe abortion as causing the death on the unborn child. The pro-abortion lobby can continue to argue that abortion is a good thing, or a tragic necessity, or whatever ... but let's at least agree on the definitions of the terms we're using.

Abortion rights generally have strong support among California voters, according to the latest Field Poll. But the nonpartisan poll early last month showed voters are split 45 percent-45 percent on Proposition 73.

In 2002, Davis said his signature on seven laws passed by the Legislature to expand abortion rights made California "arguably the most pro-choice state in the nation."


An even split?! Calling all pro-life Californians: Get Out And Vote!

The ACLU's Crosby said Proposition 73's passage "would be a major change in direction for California."

Rhomberg, the spokesman for Proposition 73, said the other side is exaggerating the importance of the parental notification law. Some of the 34 states that have consent or notification laws haven't restricted abortion rights any further in decades.

"If the sky is falling," he said, "it's falling very slowly."


Again, they're both right. Rhomberg is right that parental-involvement laws do not necessarily lead to other pro-life legislation. The Governator himself is proof that this is true: he is a pro-choice Republican who nonetheless feels a strong duty to be involved with his kids' decisions.

However, it is a turning point for California to be considering any pro-life legislation at all. Any progress for life, no matter how small, deserves to be cheered.

(cross-posted to Naaman the Ex-Leper)

UPDATE: JivinJ has an excellent rebuttal to the deceitfully-named Planned Parenthood campaign to oppose Prop 73:

Yes, that's right. Teenagers who live in troubled homes with abusive parents don't need a judge, they need an abortion counselor. They need someone whose main objective is to make sure they have an abortion, not an objective judge who hopefully has their best interests at heart and might have the ability to help them with their living situation. Because we all know that abortion solves problems like abusive parents, incest and troubled homes.

I've never heard a counter to JivinJ's point above. If a teenage girl is in the kind of dire straits that supposedly requires an abortion without parental involvement, then she has bigger problems than just an unplanned pregnancy. She needs intervention, preferably from other family members, but government intervention would also be helpful. How will it help her to vacuum her out, then send her back into a horrible situation?

1 Comment

LAMom must be thrilled to finally have the opportunity to vote on a pro-life measure....

I am indeed! And seeing that California voters are evenly divided on it is both encouraging and amazing!




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