Saturday, October 18, 2008

Choose Your Own Proposition 4 Adventure!

On the ballot in California is a proposal (Prop. 4) which would require teenagers seeking abortions to notify their parents. It doesn't require their consent, and it has exceptions for abusive parents and a judicial bypass option.

Sound okay to you? Well then play Modern Mitzvot's Choose Your Own Adventure: Prop. 4 Saga! Fun for the whole family (except the pregnant teenage daughter, of course)!


PG said...

Mostly good, but slightly dishonest in its premise that the only reason a teenager wouldn't want her parents to know that she's getting an abortion is because she has suffered criminal abuse or fears that it will be inflicted on her if her parents are informed about the abortion being sought.

Lots of strict parents wouldn't abuse their kids to the point of meeting a standard of child abuse; they'd just make that kid's life suck with emotional abuse, extreme restrictions on freedoms, etc. If I had told my parents that I had had sex in high school, they would have put an ankle tracking bracelet on me and installed a camera in my bedroom to monitor my movements to try to ensure that this never happened again. If they found out that I'd make a mistake and gotten pregnant to boot, they'd also insist that any college education they funded would be at the local school, with me living at home and my parents expecting to see me five minutes after my class day ended, because clearly I couldn't be trusted to avoid future pregnancies. My parents aren't religious fundamentalists and might have accepted my getting an abortion, but many parents wouldn't and would insist to the utmost of their legal power that the daughter carry the baby to term.

None of that would be criminally abusive; it would just be awful outcomes that I'd want to avoid by getting rid of the pregnancy without my parents' knowledge.

In other words, there's a massive gray area of parenting between "totally supportive of my daughter's choices, I don't know why she didn't come to me without being prompted" and "I'm going to beat the crap out of that slut." Having had the strict parents and not being a parent myself yet, I'm inclined to sympathize with those who want to avoid the sucky-but-not-criminally-abusive outcomes of notification, but I'm sure that many parents would say that teenagers have to learn to accept consequences and one of those consequences will be the extreme disapproval of their parents.

David Schraub said...

Yeah, I agree with that -- but the broader point that outside a very narrow scenario (physical abuse directed at your person), the "exceptions" given in Prop. 4 are grossly inadequate and put a huge amount of teenage girls in impossible situations comes through pretty strongly. The fact that there are more cases beyond just "I can't proof I have been abused specifically" which would put a young teen in these legal maze makes the "game" more compelling, I think.

Jill Rodde said...

Just to underscore your point, David, this article from the New York Times, which makes two key points.

First, parental notification laws do not appreciably affect the number of abortions performed for minors.

Second, a commentator in the article (who is also an acquaintance of Faye Ginsburg, the professor from NYU I had lunch with a few weeks ago) said that her clinic had seen an increase in parents bringing in young women who did NOT want abortions, using parental notification laws to prohibit their daughters from continuing pregnancies when they wanted to do so.

PG said...

using parental notification laws to prohibit their daughters from continuing pregnancies when they wanted to do so.

Correlation, not causation:

'But providers interviewed in 10 states with parental involvement laws all said that of the minors who came into their clinics, parents were more often the ones pushing for an abortion, even against the wishes of their daughters.

'"I see far more parents trying to pressure their daughters to have one," said Jane Bovard, owner of the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo, N.D., a state where a minor needs consent from both parents. "As a parent myself, I can understand. But I say to parents, 'You force her to have this abortion, and I can tell you that within the next six months she's going to be pregnant again.'"'

How does a parent use parental notification laws to prohibit the continuation of a pregnancy? The law applies only to notification of an abortion being sought, not to, say, purchase of a pregnancy test.