This Tuesday, Californians will vote on a ballot measure that, if approved, will place some teenagers in “serious jeopardy.”
That’s how Natalie LeBlanc, the legislative coordinator for NARAL Pro-Choice California, describes Proposition 73. Proposition 73, which requires physicians to notify a parent 48 hours before performing an abortion on a minor, poses a threat to the health and safety of young women under the age of eighteen.
Although most teenagers involve their parents in a decision to have an abortion, many teenagers can’t tell their parents for fear of disappointing them or being abused. If Proposition 73 is passed, these young women will have very limited options, such as navigating a complicated judicial bypass system or seeking an illegal abortion.
Proposition 73 does allow teenagers to petition the court for a waiver of parental notification; however, it’s often difficult for teenagers to go to court. LeBlanc points out that the teenagers who most need a waiver from the court—those who come from abusive families or who can’t communicate with their parents—are frequently the least prepared to go to court, as they may be feeling scared and alone, and often lack a support network.
Because of the difficulties of obtaining a waiver by going to court, many teenagers will seek illegal abortions. These abortions are much more dangerous than legal abortions done in clinics by doctors. Before Roe v. Wade guaranteed abortions for adult women, hundreds (if not thousands) of American women died each year from these “back-alley abortions.” For young women who are unable to discuss their pregnancy with their parents or obtain a judicial bypass, the passage of Proposition 73 would mean a return to the days of these dangerous and often deadly illegal abortions.
In an ideal world, parents should be involved in their daughters’ lives and teenagers should be able to talk to parents about important decisions such as having an abortion. However, many teenagers are unable to talk to their parents about such an issue and may suffer serious medical complications or even death from illegal abortions if Proposition 73 is passed. Even though parents should be able to know what is happening in their teenagers’ lives, is this right to know really more important than the life of a teenage girl?
Elizabeth Hopper is a senior at Bentley School in Lafayette. b