Both sides share views on abortion proposition: Amendment would require parental notification, change definition of abortion
November 3, 2005
With the election Tuesday, many await the decision as to whether California voters will back or reject a proposed constitutional amendment that would require doctors to notify a teenager’s parents before performing an abortion.
Proposition 73 would also change the definition of abortion from “termination of pregnancy” to “death of the unborn child, a child conceived but not yet born.”
Those in favor of the amendment say parents must be notified for all other medical procedures and should not lose that right in the case of an abortion.
Those who oppose it worry that some pregnant teens would seek illegal abortions rather than tell their parents, or would suffer abuse if their parents knew they were pregnant or sexually active.
Jerry Foster is pastor of Calvary Chapel of South Lake Tahoe and a police chaplain who has been on scene at a hospital when a minor needs medical attention but can’t get it until parents have been notified, even in the case of a gunshot wound.
Abortion is the only exception to the rule, he said.
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“I don’t think abortion is the one time you rule the parents out of their life,” Foster said. “The parents don’t lose the right to be a parent because the kid gets pregnant.” Foster is for the constitutional amendment.
There are no official abortion providers in South Lake Tahoe.
El Dorado County has the third-highest rate of teen pregnancy in California, according to the El Dorado County Health Department, which provides pregnancy counseling services.
Valerie Finnigan, a health nurse with the county, said many of her clients are afraid to tell their parents they are sexually active.
“They are scared they will get thrown out, or beaten,” Finnigan said, speaking only of her personal opinion. “I’ve had some adolescents that have become pregnant by a family member, so it’s not always a safe thing to tell the parents.” Finnigan is against the constitutional amendment.
Campaign for Teen Safety, a project of Planned Parenthood, has come out against the initiative.
“This proposition is dangerous for the most vulnerable of teens,” said spokeswoman Jessica Langtry. “We’re afraid those teens would be kicked out of their homes or suffer physical abuse. Or there are teens who would say, ‘It’s just not an option for me to tell my parents, I’m going to seek an unsafe abortion.'”
She said 60 percent of teens already seek out one or both parents when faced with the decision, but 40 percent of teens “usually have very good reasons for not doing that.”
Planned Parenthood has started providing information and health services at Tahoe Youth and Family Services twice monthly. They provide pregnancy tests and counseling, STD and HIV testing, birth control and education.