Under the guise of “protecting our daughters” and “defending parents’ rights,” the right wing and its minions have successfully placed Proposition 73 on the ballot for the Nov. 8 Special Statewide Election. If passed, this constitutional amendment would require doctors to notify a pregnant minor’s parents 48 hours before performing an abortion.
The first problem with this amendment lies within the wording. It defines abortion as “causing the death of an unborn child, a child conceived but not yet born.” Given the current political climate and the Bush administration’s clear hostility toward reproductive rights, overturning Roe v. Wade is a very real possibility. Secondly, the law ignores the unfortunate reality that not all families are like the Brady Bunch and the Cleavers. Although certainly not existent in Republican fantasyland, there are parents who would physically abuse their daughters if they found out she were sexually active. Proposition 73 would force some young women to decide between navigating a complicated, imperfect justice system to obtain a “judicial bypass” and facing physical abuse from their parents.
I have heard some argue that parents have the right to be involved in their children’s medical decisions and schools cannot even dispense aspirin without first obtaining parental consent. However, this argument places all medical decisions in the same category and ignores the sensitive nature of pregnancy. How many of us immediately informed our parents when we became sexually active? I’m sure not very many.
Although one would hope that young women communicate with their parents in the event of a pregnancy, government does not, and should not, exist to mandate communication between parents and children. The majority of young women do talk with either a parent or another trusted adult when they obtain an abortion. And if there is any evidence of sexual abuse or rape, doctors immediately contact the police and appropriate legal action is taken. However, when a young woman cannot turn to her parents without facing severe punishment, is it not society’s responsibility to ensure she has access to a safe, legal abortion?
Proposition 73 is a dangerous measure that would put our most vulnerable teenagers at risk. Similar to their vehement opposition to an HPV vaccine, the right is using Proposition 73 as a means to punish, harass and intimidate women for being sexually active and making personal decisions about their bodies. It is important for all Californians to protect young women and vote no on Proposition 73 on Nov. 8.
Brigid Kirlin is a senior global studies major.