This initiative would require doctors to notify a minor's parent or legal guardian 48 hours before performing an abortion. Parental consent is not required, only a 48-hour waiting period. The minor can apply for a waiver from a judge, and a physician may perform an abortion without notification in a medical emergency. The initiative also requires that physicians report abortions, and that the State compile statistics.
Many states have laws that require either parental consent or parental notification of abortion for minors (see Parental Involvement in Minors' Abortions, State Policies in Brief). In 1987 the California Legislature amended state law to require that minors obtain parental consent, but the amendment was challenged in court. A full ten years later, in 1997, the California Supreme Court struck down the law on grounds that it violates the minor's constitutional right to privacy.
Since then activists have shifted their attention from parental consent to parental notification. Several attempts to place initiatives on the ballot have failed to get enough signatures to qualify. The current effort is largely bankrolled by James Holman, owner of the weekly San Diego Reader, Sonoma vintner and former assemblyman Don Sebastiani, and Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino's Pizza.
Arguments For and Against
Proponents of the initiative claim that their main concern is the safety of girls, not eliminating abortion. They argue that minors need help to make important health decisions. They claim that the 48-hour waiting period ensures that parents have a realistic opportunity to consult with their daughter and explore her options before she makes an irrevocable decision.
Opponents argue that parental notification laws do nothing to keep teens safe or promote family communication. They hold that the real outcome of these laws is delayed medical care for the most vulnerable teens, putting them at risk for health complications.
Challenge to Initiative
A ballot argument erupted over Proposition 73 (Parental Notification of Abortion) regarding wording in the voter guide written by both supporters and opponents of the initiative. A Sacramento judge gave victories to both sides Aug. 11 by refusing to strike a statement by supporters which declared that parental notification laws in other states had reduced teen pregnancy and abortion rates "without danger and harm to minors.'' However, the judge also refused to strike a statement by opponents which declared that "millions of concerned parents" opposed the initiative. He also ordered opponents to replace wording that said that girls who sought a waiver from a judge would be put "on trial."
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CA Propositions 75, 76, 77 Defeated; Propositions 73, 74 Could Go Either Way . SurveyUSA, Election Poll #7443, Nov. 7, 2005.
PPIC Statewide Survey: Special survey on education. San Francisco: Public Policy Institute of California, April 2005.
"Voters moving to the NO side on each of the three health-related ballot initiatives – Propositions 73, 78 and 79," Field Poll, Release 2175, Nov. 2, 2005.
Propositions 73, 74, 75, 77 Losing Ground . Survey USA, Election Poll #7362, Nov. 1, 2005.
PPIC Statewide Survey: Special Survey on Californians and the Initiative Process. San Francisco: Public Policy Institute of California, October 2005.
[Website archived in Internet Archive]
"Both prescription drug initiatives, Props. 78 and 79, are leading, but few voters can identify the proponents of each initiative. Voters divided on Prop. 73, the Parental Notification of Teen Abortion initiative," Field Poll, Release 2169, Sept. 6, 2005.
Special Survey on Californians and the Initiative Process. San Francisco: Public Policy Institute of California, Public Policy Institute, September 2005
"Union dues consent initiative getting heavy initial support, as do two drug discount propositions. Voters narrowly back parental notification for teen abortion," Field Poll, Release 2160, June 22, 2005.
"Two-thirds of California voters want no changes or favor easing existing abortion laws," Field Poll, Release 2080, July 31, 2003
"Davis and Simon supporters differ markedly on the issues of abortion and gun control," Field Poll, Release 2043, May 8, 2002