By Elizabeth Limbach
There are two sides to every issue. But what can be said when both sides claim to accomplish the same thing? The slogan on Proposition 85’s website reads "For the real protection of a young girl," while the No On 85 campaign states its goal "For real teen safety."
The proposition, also called the Parents’ Right to Know and Child Protective Act, is an attempt to implement parental notification for all minors seeking abortion services. No On 85 claims that the act favors parental rights over teen privacy, while proponents say the act is an appropriate step in better protecting youth from modern dangers like online predators and sexually transmitted infections.
Last year 53 percent of voters in California voted against a similar proposition for parental notification in Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s special election. This year’s version, Prop 85, is officially known as the Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy Initiative Constitutional Amendment. If passed, the proposition would amend the California state constitution to make it illegal for a physician to perform an abortion on a minor until 48 hours after notifying a parent or legal guardian. Parental consent would not be required.
"This is really about limiting access, about chipping away at Roe," said Shanie Scott, Director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. "Their ultimate goal is to overturn Roe v. Wade, and this is how they plan on doing it, by passing more and more restrictive legislation. We are seeing it across the country."
According to Scott, 86 percent of teens already involve their parents in abortion decisions. It would be the remaining 14 percent that this proposition would affect. Scott says this group includes possible victims of abuse, familial incest, rape and minors living without legal guardians or in non-traditional living situations.
But Alvin Rhomberg, spokesperson for Proposition 85, alleges Scott’s statistic is inaccurate. "Because of the privacy of [abortion], there are no reliable studies," Rhomberg said. "It gives Planned Parenthood the opportunity to say anything they want."
The proposition does account for exceptions including medical emergencies, parent/guardian waivers and court waivers. In situations where the minor does not want their parent notified or cannot receive a waiver from them, they will be offered judicial relief without cost. If juvenile court finds the minor to be "sufficiently mature" or that notification is not in her best interest, the court can grant a waiver.
But Scott argues that because time is of the essence in abortion situations, these bureaucratic processes endanger the youth.
"If they are forced into the court system, which is already overcrowded, that’s a dangerous situation," Scott said. "To re-victimize them by forcing them into court is not good for their safety or emotional health."
Rhomberg, however, maintains that Prop 85 offers the most appropriate solutions to such cases. "A victim of familial incest doesn’t need a secret abortion from Planned Parenthood. She needs an intervention where authorities can make better arrangements," Rhomberg said.
Allison Conn, 18, worries that the young women affected by the proposition will be left without having a say on their own health and privacy. For Conn, a first-year UC Santa Cruz student, the high school memories are recent.
"I’m sure a lot of [young voters] have been in the same position and now they can be the voice for the people that can’t have a voice," Conn said.
Conn is skeptical of the proposition’s claim to offering "real" teen safety.
"I don’t think it’s really about safety at all," she said. "I think it’s about getting parents that right, and I don’t think they should have it."