The Morning Report
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Thursday, October 20, 2005 | Proposition 73 will put teenage girls in jeopardy and could spur them to cross the border to Tijuana to seek illegal abortions, opponents of the initiative said Wednesday.
The proposition would amend the California Constitution to require doctors to give notification to the parents of girls under 18 seeking to terminate a pregnancy. Currently, the constitution does not require the parents of minors to be informed when their child has an abortion.
Meeting at a Mission Valley hotel, the group, consisting of Planned Parenthood representatives, a gynecologist, a retired priest and an attorney, laid out their opposition to the initiative. In a presentation that was often emotional, they called on voters to investigate the real objectives behind the proposition.
“Get past the title, this is not about the title,” said Nancy Sasaki, chief operating officer of Planned Parenthood of San Diego and Riverside Counties. “Most teens already involve their parents, we know that. More than half of these teenagers are already talking to their parents, so this initiative’s going to do nothing for them.”
Supporters of the proposition said that’s nonsense.
“It’s a weak argument for them to say that somehow parents’ knowledge of what’s happening to their daughters is somehow going to jeopardize their health,” said Stan Devereux, Campaign Communications Director for the Yes on 73 campaign. “There’s no evidence to their claim.”
Backing their argument, the opponents to the initiative said that many studies have proven that similar propositions in other states – there are 34 other states that have passed laws on parental consent to abortion – have led to an increase in illegal abortions and even self-abortion by pregnant teens.
Those issues, they said, would be exacerbated by San Diego’s proximity to the Mexican border.
“The truth is that teenagers, when they find themselves in such an emotional state, it’s like they don’t have any options,” said Sasaki. “They don’t have anywhere to go, so sometimes they do some desperate things. Sometimes they do some crazy things. They can be very, very creative.”
Devereux answered that one by asking the opponents to the proposition what they are doing to stop children from crossing the border to drink or do drugs. He said those were similar issues and that opponents seemed to care little about them.
Proponents of the initiative argue that an exception built into the provision would allow a teenager to get a waiver of the parental permission requirement by getting approval from the juvenile court.
They argue that this would lead to more instances of abuse and incest coming to light and being reported by juvenile court judges. Under the current law, they argue, teenage girls are likely to return to an abusive family situation after terminating a pregnancy that had resulted from that abuse.
But the opponents had an answer for that one, too, saying that health care providers are already mandated to report any evidence of abuse before going ahead with a termination, and that a courthouse is not where a young girl wants to find herself while in the middle of such an emotional situation.
“At that point in time, when a teenager is emotional, they don’t need a judge,” said Sasaki. “They need to go to a trusted medical facility, to a trusted doctor, so he can give them real counseling.”
Moreover, argued Sasaki, the proposition is nothing short of an attack on the broader issue of abortion, and is the thin edge of a wedge that will gradually push out a woman’s right to choose.
“We’re going to wake up one day and say ‘Oh my God, where did all our rights go?’ and it starts here with Proposition 73.”
The proposition is one of eight propositions on the November special election ballot.
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