Californians did not approve of Proposition 85 on November 7 Ballot, upholding minors’ rights to receive abortion services without parental notification or consent. The proposition, if passed, would have amended California’s Constitution and required physicians to notify parents of their daughter’s abortion 48 hours in advance.
Victoria Timplezih, a 17 year old who attends Davis Senior High School, strongly opposed Proposition 85 and campaigned door-to-door with the Democratic Party to create awareness about the negatives of the measure. Although she said she understands positions of parents wanting to be involved in their teenagers’ lives, Timplezih said some kids are in abusive or unhealthy situations and forcing their parents into the picture would just be dangerous. “If a kid is afraid to talk to their parents, she won’t and could possibly turn to unsafe methods (of abortion).”
Pat Murray, Co-President of the Woodland Chapter of The League of Women Voters, an organization officially against Proposition 85 passing, feels that young girls need as many sources as possible to that they can make an informed decision about abortion. “I don’t like the idea of the state making medical judgments for women,” she said. “Girls need the freedom to make their own decisions.”
Murray pointed out that there were pros and cons of the proposition, and in an “ideal world,” daughters would go to their parents for help. But if the girl is not going to her parents, Murray explained, then something is wrong. “The ideal does not always happen,” Murray said. “Not all parents are equal.”
One mother, Silvia Aceves, strongly supported the proposition. “Girls 12 to 18 are not mature enough to make this kind of decision alone,” she said.
Aceves pointed out that parents are responsible for their children legally until they turn 18 and emphasized that medical procedures and emergencies require parental consent. She asked how it was possible that she could not even be notified that her teenage daughter would have such a serious procedure. “Abortion has a lot of consequences,” Aceves said. “It could affect your life forever.”
Aceves is a Medical Assistant for Kaiser Permanente who sees mothers taking their daughters, some only 12 years old like her own, into the doctor for birth control and pregnancy tests. “Sex is a game for some,” Aceves said. She explained that many girls must feel pressured by peers just to start having sex.
Randall H. Leefeldt, M.D. who practices at Sutter Health in Woodland, saw both sides of the issue. “I respect the teen’s right to privacy and the need to be able to seek care on their own, but I also understand how the parents may feel,” Leefeldt said.
Leefeldt said that the passing of Prop. 85 could have made it more difficult for girls, and could even have delayed the termination of a pregnancy beyond the recommended time.
Aceves said if her own 12-year old daughter got pregnant, she hopes her daughter would feel confident to talk to her, but if her daughter chose not to, she still feels that she has the right to be notified if her daughter wants an abortion.
The League of Women Voters stated that although parents want to be involved with their teenagers’ lives, “good family communication can’t be imposed by government.” The League also held a firm belief that Proposition 85 was really about the “political agenda of abortion opponents.”
In 1953, voters passed a law allowing minors to receive abortions without parental consent or notification. In 1987 this same law was amended, requiring minors to obtain parental or court consent before terminating pregnancy. In 1997 the Supreme Court struck down this law, so it was never implemented. Minors have since been able to receive the same abortion services as adults.