Protecting California girls

The same Mary Davenport who took on the scientific falsehoods in Michael J. Fox’s ad has co-authored an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle regarding the parental notification proposition (Prop. 85) on California’s ballot. The Proposition requires that, before a teenage girl can have an abortion, the clinic must notify her parents. As the mother of a young girl , I think Prop. 85 is a definite yes. So does Davenport, and her co-author, Jane Anderson:

In recent years, teens have died in California from complications of secret abortions that might have been prevented with parental help in securing adequate medical care. It is outrageous that young girl can undergo such a serious procedure as an abortion with mental-health risks such as depression and even suicide, without the involvement of her parents. Some 30 states already have parental involvement laws such as Proposition 85 protecting young girls. These states have seen significant reductions in teen abortion and teen pregnancy rates.

A recent study from Florida State University found that in states with parental-involvement laws, the gonorrhea rate among teens dropped significantly. The researchers’ conclusion: incentives matter. When a girl — and her boyfriend — know that her parents would have to be notified if she wanted an abortion, they are motivated to avoid risky sexual behavior.

Opponents have claimed at various times that 60, 70, 80 or 90 percent of minors already tell a parent. In fact, a study of 1,500 minors conducted by Planned Parenthood’s research arm found that only 45 percent reported telling a parent. This study of minors voluntarily reporting is itself skewed against showing the true percentages who don’t tell a parent. Why is it that the majority of minors don’t tell? By far the most common reason given for not telling a parent is that they didn’t want to hurt or disappoint them. Only a very small percentage cite fear of abuse, and it is for just those cases that Proposition 85 provides the judicial-waiver process. With the judicial bypass, a minor can explain to a juvenile court judge why it is not in her best interests for a parent to be notified. If there is evidence of abuse, in addition to granting the waiver, the judge will report that to child-protective services. A minor living in an abusive home needs help and intervention. A secret abortion does nothing but leave her in the same environment, vulnerable to further abuse. In other states with parental notification laws, 5 to 10 percent of teens make use of a judicial bypass process. The experience of other states with similar laws demonstrates that minors in abusive situations are adequately protected.

Unsurprisingly, given its readership and editorial Board, the article indicates that the SF Chron, in advising its readers how to vote, has told them to Vote No on Prop. 85.

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  • JJ

    Talk to a doctor about this some time, it’s pretty funny. A friend of mine says:

    “A 14 year old girl comes in, to give her an examination I have to get permission. To give her a flu shot I have to get permission. To give her a pertussis booster I have to get permission. To give her an aspirin I have to get permission. To take out her appendix which is going to burst in the next half hour and possibly kill her I have to get permission. To send her to a specialist I have to get a roomful of permissions (parents/guardians, insurance company, etc., etc.) – but to give her an abortion which is, excuse me, fairly major surgery requiring anesthetics and the occasional transfusion; I’m NOT ALLOWED to get permission or even tell anybody about it? For minor nothings like a flu shot or an examination the state regards her as what she is: a child not responsible or competent to make a decision for herself. But for what occasionally turns into surgery to terminate an unqanted fetus – she’s fully competent? Excuse me?”

    After which the conversation generally becomes heavily laced with obscenities, so I shall not reproduce it here.

  • Scott in SF

    But JJ none of the above medical procedures are related to personal conduct. That is the difference.
    We need to teach teen-agers to be responsible for their actions. The best way to do that is to demonstrate responsibility ourselves.
    Thus I propose we link abortion and contraception.
    Parents who sign a document allowing their teen-agers to get contraception should definately be notified before any abortion takes place. Those who do not endorse their teen-agers use of contraception should not be notified.
    –A simple solution, which encourages personal responisibility–you live with the consequenses of your actions.

    Until we get clear about this, I’m afraid I will have to vote for teenagers making their own decisions. Bookworm is right, most parents should be informed. Too bad no one is suggesting a policy which will really solve this problem.

  • Trish


    Unless those teenagers have been told in no uncertain terms that abstinence is the only sensible lifestyle for a young unmarried girl, you are completely discouraging personal responsibility. Teaching responsibility means teaching respect for ones body, and that means refusing to endorse a casual attitude toward sex.

    Those who endorse giving contraceptives to children should NOT be notified when their grandchildren are aborted, because they have already given their permission. Only those who care enough about their children to refuse to encourage irresponsible sex should be notified–and that means those who do NOT allow contraception.

    Teenagers are not consired mature enough to decide whether or not to have a beer. Sexual intercourse is the most profound and important action in the universe, and yet we not only talk about teenagers making their own decisions, but encourage them to trivialize it, even to the point of making them believe virginity is abnormal because “they’re going to do it anyway.” No, they are not–not if they are taught personal responsibility.

    So until you get clear about the facts, Scott, you should not be voting on this issue at all.

  • Ymarsakar

    If Scott wants teenagers to make their own decisions. Scott is basically lowering the legal age for being an adult. He can’t just pick and choose what he likes and then somehow present it as a “house” that won’t fall with the next 5 MPH wind.

  • JJ

    There are centuries of experience with teenagers making their own decisions. Most of them have been bad. That’s why the human race established an “age of consent” in the first place: because kids can all too often be depended upon to inevitably screw it up, hurting themselves at the least, and all too often everyone around them.

    After all, “let them eat cake,” a not very bright remark from the typically thoughtless teenager Marie Antoinette turned out to have ramifications she wasn’t old enough to know existed, or imagine could exist.

    This is why we don’t let fourteen years olds drive or own homes. Why we don’t let teenagers drink, smoke, or enter into contracts. For a long time we didn’t let them vote, either. Below the age of sixteen, they’re expected to be in school every day, and if they aren’t someone’s going to want to know why.

    Order, in other words, is imposed on them by society, pretty much without their consent. Their consent is not seen as being “informed,” and is therefore not seen as being necessary. This is because they are kids. Society, knowing in advance that they will generally not make good decisions, does not care what they think, and tries to protect them from themselves.

    Except in this one area, which I do not, I confess, understand. I don’t know how society – or even the courts – reconcile the simultaneously held ideas of, on the one hand: too young and dumb to own a home, drive, smoke, drink, or sign a contract; with the idea – simultaneously held, mind you! – that here, in this matter of literal life and death, magical competence to render a reasoned decision somehow manifests as needed.

    Quite weird.

  • Ymarsakar

    JJ, the revolution requires sacrificies. And sometimes those sacrifices are inconsistent and jagged with the wounds brought on by the newness of things. But it will all be for the best, we assure you.

    The judges know. They know. Even the Democrats know.

  • Scott in SF

    JJ you are right that there is a conflict in the law based on the idea that teenagers are both responsible for their actions and yet not mature enough to make decisions as well as adults. When a parent knows about a teenager’s bad decisions, sometimes they can take actions which will convince that teenager to make better decisions in the future. And sometimes not.
    This issue is about a situation where a teenager has gotten pregnant without the knowledge of their parents.
    In some situations telling the parents will be better for everyone, and in some situations telling the parents will be worse for everyone. Who decides?
    The teenager has done nothing illegal (and even if they have the law allows them not to incriminate themselves) so the legal system can not sanction them.
    Everyone in this debate recognizes these facts. That is why the proposed law allows for a judge to intervine on be half of the teenager.
    So the debate is: Should a teenager have to go before a judge to get an abortion in a situation where they feel they must keep their pregnancy a secret from their parents.
    So I imagine a teenager going before a judge and saying I want an abortion and I don’t want my parents to know. The judge than asks “why shouldn’t your parents be informed” And the teenager says “I can’t tell you.”
    Now the judge knows nothing about the case and therefore can not make an informed decision. All they know is that this teenager wants an abortion.
    The teenager has more information than anyone else and can not be forced to share that information, therefore–in this case (and it is the only case which is relevant to the law) they must be the one to make the decision.
    (Many people have proposed that we force teenagers to gain more information before they get an abortion, but what that information should be is a matter of debate.)
    I absolutely agree that we should do what we can to prevent and deter teenage pregnancy, but it can not be totally prevented.
    The ways people have tried to prevent teenage pregnancy are diverse and contentious–but that is still the appropreate place to focus our energies, for the good of society and the individual.
    The way the law is now, there is an insentive on parents to make sure their children already understand all of the consequences of teenage pregnancy and abortion before they reach puberty and that they continue to be informed as they mature.

  • Al

    This debate is spurious.The individials who believe that a 14 year old should be allowed to have an abortion without any notification of the poor girl’s parents are the same individuals (ie. emorphis liberal mob)(note the dicotomy?)who believe that the parents of students who shoot up a school should pay millions of dollars in restitution.They should know what their child is doing,thinking,enduring in the gulag of the local High School.
    Liberals do not what to let parents know that their child is engaging in inappropriate sex, but those same parents have to know (I guess by osmosis) that their child may be in disress and may strike out.
    Girls who try to deliver a baby under 15 years of age have an increased risk of dying in childbirth. The poor girl’s parents need to know that their child is pregnant.
    In the main, the majority of family problems are best solved by the family. not by the government.
    Mom and Dam need to be notified.

  • Ymarsakar

    The law decides, and those who make the law, should make the law a good one. One that will maximize justice. The debate really should be on what law will maximize justice for all. Teenagers cannot refuse to tell a judge what the judge has demanded as evidence. Children are not outside of the law, they are under the umbrella of the protections of the law.

  • Scott in SF

    Ymarsakar, that’s funny, so a judge is going to hold a pregnant teen in contempt of court and jail her until she tells all.
    “Lighter and lighter the sky grows, Darker and darker are our woes.”
    Romeo and Juliet: Parents you can’t tell, love, larger social consequenses, abortion, untimely death, it’s got it all.

  • erp

    It’s not only abortion that’s contrary to logic when it comes to kids. All of the above is true for children under 18, the age when the law says they are adults.

    All well and good except they’re not responsible for paying their college costs no matter how old they get, that’s still the parents’ responsibility, yet parents can’t request to see their kid’s report card or any of their academic records without their kid’s permission.

    The double standard thrives in our demented leftwing world.

  • Ymarsakar

    The judge is the only hope a child has if the child needs help against his own family members. Regardless of how you cut it, the judge needs to know.

  • Danny Lemieux

    In the Umma, girls are the tools for the population of the caliphate. In the Democrat West, girls are the tools for the depopulation for the Enviro-Eutopian State.