Los Angeles Times editorial, Sept. 25, 2008:
"The real safety concerns are these: If this measure passes, some girls will seek out illegal abortions rather than notify their parents. Some will attempt to hide the pregnancy, go without prenatal care, give birth alone and abandon the newborn. With no real evidence that this proposal would enhance the welfare of the state's teens -- and with no doubt that it would roll back decades of hard-won constitutional rights -- Proposition 4 deserves defeat."
This is the third initiative in four years to try to limit the ability of girls in California to obtain abortions. Voters defeated Proposition 73 in 2005 and Proposition 85 in 2006. Critics complained that those measures would have forced a girl to inform a perhaps abusive parent. Proposition 4 differs in that it would allow a girl to get permission from an adult family member other than a parent or guardian.
Proponents call Proposition 4 "Sarah's Law," after a Texas girl who they say died from an infection caused by an abortion her parents didn't know about. As The Times reported Aug. 2, the law would not have covered "Sarah," who was deemed married (under the common law of Texas, where she lived) at the time of her pregnancy and therefore she would not have had to notify a parent of an abortion.
Planned Parenthood has sued to have the girl's story removed from proposed ballot materials.
In addition to labeling Proposition 4 "Sarah's Law," backers use the unofficial title "Child and Teen Safety and Stop Predators Act"; their title does not mention abortion or parental notification. California voters haven't supported initiatives to restrict a minor's access to abortion, but they have strongly supported measures to punish sex offenders and child predators, including the 2006 California Proposition 83, known as "Jessica's Law."
The ballot language (pdf):
Analysis from the state Legislative Analyst's Office
Who votes: Registered voters living in California.
"We will modify the way we present Sarah to be accurate with the information. But we don't think the use of her story is marred."
--Campaign spokeswoman Erica Little
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