Californians are currently evenly split over whether to force
minors to advise at least one parent before getting an abortion
Gilroy – If a controversial bill in the November special election passes, California will join more than 30 other states requiring doctors to notify the parents of minors receiving abortions. Proposition 73 would require parental notification, but not consent to receive the procedure.
Critics of Prop. 73 believe the health and safety of minors is at risk with such legislation, citing that those minors who do not tell their parents beforehand do so out of fear. Proponents argue that parents are the legal guardian of minors and more equipped to handle the emotional aftermath.
“For me, Proposition 73 is perhaps the most important issue on the ballot. It evokes the most emotion, but receives the least amount of attention,” said Katie Desmond, public affairs director for Planned Parenthood Miramonte in San Jose. “Mostly we’re very concerned about putting teenagers in harms way – and that’s what this initiative does.”
Prop. 73 would amend the state constitution prohibiting abortions for minors until parents are notified at least 48 hours beforehand, except in a medical emergency. Minors may obtain a court waiver to parental notification if they appear in person and convince the court of their maturity to make the decision. Physicians who violate the requirements may be penalized up to $10,000.
Under Proposition 73, abortion is defined as causing “death of the unborn child, a child conceived but not yet born.”
Desmond believes the new wording may be indicative of another agenda entirely.
“What does this have to do with their health?” she asked. “I can’t help but think there’s something else at work.”
For local parent Diane McGinty, the issue comes down to responsibility.
“To totally keep parents in the dark when it’s a life changing decision, when they are legally responsible for them … it just doesn’t make sense,” she said. “Some girls have died (from the procedure), some have been unable to conceive again. They all experience some trauma. … No one really loves their children as much as a parent does. Parents are really the ones who are prepared to help them through the crisis.”
According to a Sept. 9 Field Poll, California voters are evenly split on Proposition 73. Forty-five percent of those polled support the measure, while 45 percent do not.
But for some Obstetricians/Gynecologists in the South Valley, they fear Prop. 73 would delay minors from receiving proper prenatal care.
Ali Hoda M.D. has worked as an OBGYN for 24 years in South County. He has never performed an abortion. He is morally opposed to the practice – but Hoda is against Prop 73.
“That is ridiculous to me. This would just delay the process,” he said.
Hoda believes the measure would delay a patient’s legal right to have an abortion by making a minor go through the court process.
Under the proposition a minor would not have to pay a court fee and would be entitled to a hearing and ruling within three business days of receiving a waiver request.
For Michele Hugin, an OBGYN at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, this delay is unacceptable.
“They say it will be an expedited process. But even a week or two can make such a difference in the safety of a (patient),” she said. “The earlier the abortion is, the safer it is for the mother.”
Hugin often sees youth who do not come from nuclear households, and believes these teens will be the most affected.
“Some teenagers feel that they cannot go to their parents,” she said, citing fear or rejection. “I’m a parent. I think we all want to our (children) to communicate with us. But if for whatever reason they can’t … we want them to get the appropriate medical care that they need.”
According to Hugin, the dangers of delayed prenatal care include: The fetus may be exposed to harmful medicines the teen is taking and fetal defects may not be diagnosed as well as the possibility of Sexually Transmitted Diseases going undiagnosed.
However, critics argue that minors do not have the emotional maturity to make such a decision without a parent.
“It’s like a Band-Aid solution,” McGinty said. “But there’s a festering sore that’s underneath it.”