California pro-lifers, as well as Lifeline readers in other states, are well aware that parental notification initiatives appeared on the California ballot in both 2005 and 2006. Unfortunately, both times the initiative was narrowly defeated, in large part due to unfavorable electoral cross-currents.
Pro-lifers, of course, are no strangers to setbacks. Anyone prone to give up after one, two, or even a multitude of defeats had better find another cause to support. That being said, pro-lifers also try not to be stupid or to waste resources on quixotic efforts. That’s why the proponents of Propositions 73 and 85 are trying again, but also why they are incorporating the lessons learned from those prior experiences into their latest effort, Sarah’s Law.
Sarah was a fifteen-year-old girl who died from a secret abortion. The abortionist tore her cervix during the procedure and sent her home to deal with the aftermath herself. She developed an acute infection and died a few days later. Had her parents known about the abortion, they could have sought medical care sooner and saved her life.
In addition to focusing on the dangers that secret abortions pose for young girls, Sarah’s Law contains a provision not found in either of the two earlier propositions. This provision responds to the most frequently raised objection to parental notification: abusive parents. Sarah’s Law provides that, if a girl seeking an abortion tells the doctor that she fears abuse because she has been the victim of abuse by either parent, the doctor may instead notify another adult family member (e.g., aunt, grandparent, older sibling). However, the doctor must also report the abusive situation to the proper authorities, so the situation can be addressed, not covered up.
This added protection for girls from abusive homes fully counters the “bad dad” argument so commonly raised, while still ensuring that young girls will be protected from the dangers of secret abortions. Those dangers include not only physical risks but also the emotional and spiritual damage done to young girls pressured into sexual relationships and exploited by older men.
Planned Parenthood and its ilk will, of course, fight Sarah’s Law tooth and nail, as they fight any proposal that interferes with their agenda of abortion on demand and sexual license for all, no matter how young and vulnerable. Although parental notification laws are in effect in more than half the states and have been shown to reduce teen abortion and teen pregnancy rates, Planned Parenthood insists that all a young girl needs is the “caring professionals” at their clinics, not her parents or other close family member.
Life Legal Defense Foundation fully endorses Sarah’s Law and encourages all pro-lifers to support this proposition, which will appear on the November ballot, in whatever way they can.
[More information about Sarah’s Law and what can be done to help pass it is available on the web at friendsofsarah.com—Ed.]