Parents’ Right to Know

For the first time in the history of California, the people will have an opportunity to vote on a measure relating to abortion. Thanks to the efforts of thousands of pro-life, pro-family Californians, the Parents’ Right to Know and Child Protection Initiative (PRKCP) has qualified for the state ballot and will top the list of initiatives on the ballot this November. If passed, this initiative will ensure that a parent is notified at least 48 hours before his or her minor daughter receives an abortion. (1)

Although California has arguably the most pro-abortion laws in the country, this is historically due primarily to court decisions. By the time of the United States Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973, California state courts had already read various restrictions out of the admittedly lax 1967 Therapeutic Abortion Act. Roe finished the job of gutting that law.

After Roe, the state courts took over again, creating a constitutional “right to abortion” misleadingly premised on the “right of privacy” initiative passed by voters in 1972. (This initiative was approved by voters only to ensure that personal information would not be misused.) Relying on this phony constitutional right to abortion, the courts went beyond U.S. Supreme Court precedent to hold that the state must fund abortions with taxpayer dollars and that state law could not require minors to obtain a parent’s consent before obtaining an abortion. More recently, the state legislature has become a virtual arm of Planned Parenthood, California Abortion Rights Action League, and their ilk, with the result that pro-abortion legislation, such the California Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, the Reproductive Rights Law Enforcement Act, and the Reproductive Privacy Act have sailed through. Shockingly, it has been over fifteen years since any bill restricting abortion in any manner or degree has gotten out of a legislative committee. It has been over fifteen years since any measure restricting abortion has received an up or down vote on the floor of either house of the legislature.

Through all of this, the direct voice of the people has not been heard in the manner provided for in the initiative process. The people never voted for abortion, much less unlimited, taxpayer-funded abortion on demand. With the Parents’ Right to Know initiative, for the first time the people will tell the legislature, the governor, and the courts what they think of the regime of unfettered abortion that has been thrust on them.

Because of California’s size, passage of the PRKCP will in one fell swoop restore some measure of authority to a significant percentage of our nation’s parents. In terms of population alone, parental notification in California will cover over thirteen per cent of our nation’s teens and parents. Because of California’s high teen pregnancy and abortion rates, the projected impact on the number of abortions and teen pregnancies is even greater. Based on the experience of other states with parental involvement laws, the state Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated that a reduction of up to 25% in the number of teen abortions in California. Although absolute numbers of teen abortions are difficult to come by, it is estimated that this 25% translates into a reduction of 5,000 to 10,000 abortions annually. As it stands now, California minors obtain as many abortions annually as in thirty other states combined. The effect of Parents’ Right to Know would also be felt in other states. “Success with the parental notice ballot initiative in California would have a significant impact on California abortions and that, in turn, would have a positive impact on the pro-life movement across the country,” says Clarke Forsythe, Director of Americans United for Life’s Project in Law and Bioethics. “The drop in California abortions would be encouraging to the movement across the country, and success in galvanizing the public to pass the initiative in California would encourage similar efforts in other states.” For more information about the PRKCP and how to get involved in the campaign, call (866) 828-8355 or go to

  1. See Lifeline, Vol. XIV, No. 1 for a detailed analysis of the PRKCP.