Proposition 4 is a proposed amendment to the California constitution
that would prohibit abortions for an unemancipated minor until 48
hours after the physician notifies the parents or legal guardian. It
is a direct response to the fact that California law currently allows
doctors to perform chemical and surgical abortions on girls of any
age without a parent even being notified. No issue in this country –
not Iraq, President Bush, capital punishment or even race – is more
divisive or generates more anger and passion than abortion. We now
add families and children to the equation.

In broad strokes, the pro-Prop 4 argument is simple. Having an
abortion is an incredibly important and difficult decision, one most
teenaged girls are not capable of making, so parents should not be
excluded from the process. Below are four reasons to vote “Yes” on
Prop 4.

1. Child safety. The most common anti-Prop 4 argument is, “In a
perfect world, all teenaged girls would go to their parents when
considering whether or not to have an abortion, but it’s not a
perfect world and we need to protect those who are justifiably afraid
to turn to their parents.”

This position completely ignores the safeguards built into the
initiative. Prop 4 allows for circumventing parents in a variety of
ways: through alternative notification to other adult relatives,
exceptions for medical emergencies and court waivers based on clear
and convincing evidence of a minor’s maturity or best interests. What
Prop 4 doesn’t do is allow a 13-year-old girl, who is scared to tell
her parents that she’s made a mistake, simply to stop by Planned
Parenthood, make the second most important decision of her life (the
first was to get pregnant) without her parents and get an abortion.

An abusive parent is a terrible thing, but no more of a reason to
continue eroding parents’ rights – and, more importantly,
responsibilities – than automobile accidents are a reason to ban
cars, spousal abuse a justification for ending marriage or alcoholism
an argument for another failed Prohibition. There are inherent risks
in everything we do and the dangers of a non-notification policy
outweigh the specious “advantages” of allowing teens and pre-teens to
make this life-altering decision independent of their parents – at a
time when they need them the most.

2. Common sense. Twelve-, 13- and 14-year-old girls are not allowed
to marry, drink, drive, join the military, watch an R-rated movie,
get a tattoo or even use a tanning salon without permission from
their parents – and, in some cases, not even then. Why? Because they
are children and are not emotionally equipped to make these
decisions, or to deal with, or even understand, the consequences.

We differentiate in this society between children and adults, and for
good reason. If we believe that children are ready to begin making
decisions at an earlier age, wouldn’t we want to start with whether
or not they can visit a tanning salon and work up to whether or not
to end the life of a fetus?

3. Health. Having an abortion may be the most difficult decision a
woman ever makes, and is certainly the most difficult decision that a
teen – or pre-teen – girl could face. The post-abortion emotional and
physiological ramifications will continue for months or even years.
What if there are complications from the surgery? The parents would
have no idea and would not be equipped to make proper medical
decisions regarding their daughter. The supporters of this initiative
refer to it as Sarah’s Law, because of a young lady who died of
complications following an abortion. Many observers believe this
death could have been prevented had the parents known about the

4. Family. This is a family matter. The decision to have an abortion
is hard enough, and in 99.9% of the cases a young girl should discuss
it with her parents and, if all possible, the baby’s father and his
parents, as well. It probably won’t be an easy discussion, and it is
certainly not one that anyone looks forward to having. However, it is
still the parents’ responsibility to be involved, and as hard as it
is to raise a family today, the last thing that parents need is an
easy way to be circumvented at such a critical time.

Having an abortion is a difficult enough decision for a woman, much
less a pre-teen child. Raising a family today, under any
circumstances, is quite challenging. Let’s not further erode families
and endanger children because of a few terrible, and terribly
sensationalized, incidents. A good law speaks to the majority and
protects the minority, and Prop 4 does both. Come November 4th, vote
“Yes” on Prop 4, to protect families and, most importantly, our