CA Prop 85: Parental Notification. Who is behind it and what it means to every state.

September 8, 2006

Editor’s Note: We’ve had a lot of good diaries today. This is one of them. Thanks, Christina! -Elisa

Last week I attended a wine and cheese mixer sponsored by the Lawyers Club of San Diego’s Reproductive Choice committee. The guest speaker was the Planned Parenthood Director of Communications for San Diego and Riverside counties, Vince Hall. Vince helped defeat last year’s parental notification measure in California, Proposition 73. At the mixer, he told us about this year’s version of parental notification Prop 85. Again you ask? Oh yes! Read more below and learn how important this issue in California is to the entire nation
Apparently in the war to overturn Roe V Wade, California is considered the premier battleground. The pro life groups assume that any victories here in the most pro choice state in the nation will easily translate into nationwide initiatives. According to the Gutmacher Institute, California leads the nation in reducing teen pregnancy rates by 46% over the last decade. The credit to that reduction goes back to Governor Pete Wilson’s family planning program for the state which was further supported by Gray Davis with increased funding and has even continued to flourish under Schwarzenegger. So it is a program started by a pro choice Republican and subsequently thriving under a pro choice Democrat and then another pro choice Republican. Now that is a true bi-partisan plan which is working! Of course as I said, this is California, the most pro choice state in the nation so it should not be a surprise, but it does set a great example for other states. This point was brought home by an attendee at the mixer who spoke of her previous years living in Oklahoma. She said that in that very red state where all manner of restrictions exist, the pro choice activists looked to California for clues on how to turn things around.

So here we go with parental notification Round Two. The financial backing is coming from the editor of the San Diego Reader – one of the nations largest, independent, free newspapers that is very popular with high school and college age readers. This information just floored me! I’ve been a fan of the Reader since high school. On the surface it seems so progressive with some amazing underground sort of articles that are so in depth and are great examples of investigative journalism. It’s been one of the best places to go for free classified ads and personals. Well, what I never noticed was that it is apparently the ONLY such independent paper to not have a same sex personal section. The paper also has never allowed Planned Parenthood to buy ad space. Guess which paper I wont ever read again?! The editor’s name is Jim Holman. Check out this editorial about him from San Diego’s other alternative news source San Diego CityBeat. When Prop 73 was defeated last year Mr. Holman promptly plunked down another 2 million (yes, he’d been the main backer of the first initiative too) to finance another round of signature gathering to put version 2 on this years ballot. Last year Planned Parenthood spent $5 million fighting Prop 73 and that was without Holman buying any TV ads. This year, they are expecting him to be a little more media savvy and spend money on ads himself, therefore, even more funds will be needed to fight Prop 85.

This must be defeated. It MUST. We don’t have a problem in California with teen pregnancies and abortions. The numbers are going DOWN without a law like this. Of course every parent hopes their child WOULD notify them if they were faced with an unwanted pregnancy. However, we should not be making laws FORCING communication. According to Planned Parenthood of California, the vast majority of teens who come to their clinics do so already with a parent. By “parent” they also count grandparents and aunts or adult cousins or siblings. In other words, it is a very rare case when a teen comes to them totally alone. Of course, Prop 85 doesn’t account for “other family” as far as notification goes. So why do we need this law if not simply to chip away at Roe V Wade? When faced with the classic `what if’ scenario – what if a 16 year old is raped by her father and becomes pregnant and obviously cannot notify any parent – the pro lifers point to the judicial option built into this proposition. They think that in that situation a 16 year old will find a way to get to a courthouse, tell a clerk what they need, get assigned to a courtroom and then tell a judge what they need. A scared, pregnant 16 year old is going to tell strangers in a courthouse how she became pregnant and why she cannot tell her parents?

So here is my plea: no matter where you live, go to NoOn85 and make a contribution. You are not just helping California – you are helping every state. Let’s stop the battle HERE and not let the pro life groups get any wind in their sails to spread this to other states. If you live here in California, go to that site and sign up! Volunteer. Contribute. Get bumper stickers and signs and make phone calls. Finally, if you live in San Diego, never ever pick up a Reader again!! Check out CityBeat instead for all your local, alternative, fun, independent news. Don’t be fooled by Jim Holman and please do not let him chip away at our rights.