Thousands of miles separate me from California, yet when I heard about Proposition 4, a cold shudder went through me. It is a potential law that will be on the ballot, and it requires parents, or a family member to be notified 48 hours before a teenager has an abortion. The law does not require parental consent, but honestly if a teenager decides to have an abortion and the parent is pro choice, they have it within their power to deny access to a clinic.
This law further does not consider what this means in the case of abusive families. When I was 16, my bf was spotted kissing her boyfriend by her father. He completely lost his mind and viciously beat her with a belt, I shudder to think what he would have done had he known that she was sexually active. To this day I can still picture the ugly bruises that covered her tiny body.
This law assumes that all families are loving and accepting, and this is simply not the case. Many teenagers live in homes in which they endure abuse both emotional and physical. Couching this law as a parental rights issue does not recognize the many dysfunctional families that are in existence. This will not increase communication in any way shape or form, and furthermore communication may not be in the best interest of the young woman.
What I cannot understand is why it is so hard to understand that every time there is a restriction to abortion access women die. When young girls learn that parents are going to be notified about their intent to have an abortion some will resort to taking drugs, or worse yet use a coat hanger to force a miscarriage.
There is already an issue with teenagers not seeking medical attention when it comes to issues of sexuality, and if they are informed in advance that their parents will be notified of their decision to have an abortion, they will be even less likely to seek the help that they need.
At almost every turn, teens are continually being denied access to the information that they need to make decision about their bodies and sexuality. It seems to me, that rather than risking their lives with this ridiculous notification law, society should be focusing on education, which will reduce the incidents of unplanned pregnancy. We need to be providing condoms free of charge at every single high school. We cannot control whether or not our children are having sex, but we can certainly make it easier for them to make the right decisions about sexual activity.
The time to act is before a pregnancy occurs. I have no doubt in my mind that the same people that are advocating this law, are the same ones that are fighting having real sex education in schools. We need to stop the moralizing when it comes to our children and provide them with real solutions. No one should have to pay with their life for engaging in a natural act. When you think about which way to vote, keep in mind that the following organizations are against Proposition 4.
- California Nurses Association
- California Medical Association
- California Association of School Counsellors
- California Teachers Association
- Planned Parenthood
There are real lives at stake here. This is not about building happy families, but about controlling the lives and bodies of young girls.