Abortion-rights activists are fiercely opposing a measure put before Californians next week on whether parents should be notified before a minor has an abortion.
A backer of the measure, Yes on 73, argues for its passage by pointing to a well-documented survey by Texas-based Life Dynamics revealing virtually all Planned Parenthood affiliates fail to report clear cases of statutory rape to authorities.
Proposition 73, dubbed “The Parents’ Right to Know and Child Protection Initiative,” would amend the state constitution to require that physicians notify a parent or guardian 48 hours before performing an abortion on a minor.
Opponents of the initiative, on the Nov. 8 ballot, contend it will result in unsafe underground abortions and precipitate an erosion of rights leading to an overturn of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
The proposed law provides for a waiver if a judge determines there is evidence of domestic physical or sexual abuse.
Some abortion-rights supporters are worried because the proposition includes a definition of abortion. Once established in the constitution, the definition could affect related issues, such as embryonic stem-cell research.
The Los Angeles Daily News, in an editorial endorsing the measure, notes, “Minors in California cannot obtain any medical procedure, body-piercing or tattoo without their parents’ permission. They are deemed below the age of consent for sex. They cannot legally smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or even watch an R-rated movie without an adult. If they are arrested or get in trouble at school, their parents are notified. The reason for such laws and policies is sound: Most minors lack the maturity to make difficult life decisions. And in tough times, they need their parents, even if they don’t know it. That’s especially so in the traumatic situations of teen pregnancy.”
The Yes on 73 website site provides some of the audio tapes of a Life Dynamics researcher who telephoned 800 Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Federation facilities nationwide portraying a 13-year-old girl who had been made pregnant by a 22-year-old boyfriend.
The caller told the clinics she wanted an abortion “because she and her boyfriend did not want her parents to find out about the sexual relationship,” a summary of the report stated.
Among the findings was that many clinic workers acknowledged the girl’s situation was illegal and that they were required by law to report it, but an “overwhelming majority readily agreed” to keep secret the illegal sexual contact.
Life Dynamics said that in 91 percent of their calls, the person they reached at the center agreed to conceal the statutory rape.
Girls under age 14 are presumed to be victims of rape, but Planned Parenthood argues that compliance with the underage reporting law would breach the doctor-patient confidentiality agreement.
Nevertheless, Life Dynamic President Mark Crutcher insists Planned Parenthood understands the law, noting his group has a tape recording of the abortion provider’s top two national attorneys admitting that child-abuse reporting laws override confidentiality requirements in every state.
Yes on 73 says, “We urgently need to protect our young daughters from sexual exploitation covered up by secret abortions performed without parents’ knowledge.”
The Life Dynamics probe has sparked a number of legal investigations across the nation. In addition to the Planned Parenthood investigation, the pro-life group brought about the 1999 congressional hearings on the sale of aborted baby parts.