It may be on the left coast, but it’s not always on the left

The state of California is widely perceived to be a liberal state. However, it is forgotten sometimes that the governor of the state is a Republican despite his previous occupations of pot-smoking bodybuilder and movie action hero. This has come disturbingly to light with two propositions that made it onto next week’s ballots out there—Proposition 8, which would withdraw the previously passed law that allows same sex couples to marry, and, more germane to here, Proposition 4, which would mandate that a minor’s parents or an adult family member be notified within forty-eight hours if the minor plans on having an abortion.

Proposition 4, nicknamed Sarah’s Law, does have some exceptions which are similar to other states (summary via the San Francisco Chronicle):

A pregnant minor could petition the court for a waiver from a judge based on based on “clear and convincing evidence” of her maturity or best interest. Or, a physician could agree to a minor’s request to notify another adult relative if there was evidence of a parent’s physical, sexual or severe emotional abuse – and the doctor reported those allegations to law enforcement or Child Protective Services. The only other exception would be for a medical emergency or if a parent had waived his or her right to notification in advance.

The proposition’s supporters are selling it as a “protect the children” matter, arguing that the exceptions allow teenagers with less-than-great family relationships to stay safe. The “Sarah” named is for a 15-year-old who died in 1994 following an abortion (it has been mentioned by several sources that “Sarah” actually obtained her abortion in Texas and supposedly already had a child with a man she identified as her common-law husband). Scott Harris of the Los Angeles Daily News wrote an editorial praising Proposition 4, but the reference below shows just how out of touch some of its supporters are (bolding mine):

What Proposition 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.

Um … WHAT? If a 13-year-old is scared to tell her parents she made a mistake I’d make a fairly large wager that she did not decide to get pregnant. Decide to have sex, okay, that I might grant. But deciding to get pregnant? Yes, I’m well aware that there are teen girls who do that so they can have “someone who’ll always love me” but it’s safe to say they decide that because they have nothing else in their lives, which is hugely sad. Following Mr. Harris’ logic the parents in this scenario are good, so wouldn’t it stand to reason that the 13-year-old wouldn’t feel the need to get pregnant?

As you’ll read in the editorial there are two points that are completely missed—first, while Mr. Harris goes on and on about the “emotional and physiological ramifications” of abortion, there is NOTHING about the ramifications of pregnancy and childbirth on a young person which, I would venture, would be far greater. Secondly, also par for the course, there is nothing said about the sperm donor. To be fair, on the website urging Proposition 4 to be passed it’s written “On a daily basis, older men exploit young girls and use secret abortions to cover up their crimes.” Still, let me get this straight—you want a teenager to carry and birth a child to serve strictly as evidence of statutory rape? I don’t know about you, but that kind of sounds like child abuse to me.

Laws such as Proposition 4 make a bad situation already worse. I will be the first to admit that anything having to do with a teenager getting pregnant is unnerving. In a perfect world, teens would think everything through, talk about what would happen if a pregnancy did occur with the potential partner, and have that potential partner be someone they both know well and trust. We’re not even close to being “somewhat decent” when it comes to that. We all know that education and communication is the key to preventing teen pregnancies in the first place, to let them know that no, they are not bulletproof and yes, it could very well happen to them. I’m tired of hearing about laws like this, just like I’m tired of seeing teenage girls wheeling strollers through my local mall. Ironically, Mr. Harris ends his editorial with this:

Let’s not further erode families and endanger children because of a few terrible, and terribly sensationalized, incidents.

Like a teenager who died fourteen years ago due to complications from a legal surgical procedure?