National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

ELECTION 2008 | Poll Finds 48% Support for, 39% Opposition to California Parental Notification Ballot Initiative

ELECTION 2008 | Poll Finds 48% Support for, 39% Opposition to California Parental Notification Ballot Initiative
[July 25, 2008]

About 48% of likely California voters said they support an initiative on the state's Nov. 4 ballot that would require parental notification before minors could receive abortions, while 39% of likely voters said they oppose it, according to a Field Poll released earlier this week, the Contra Costa Times reports. The poll was conducted among 672 likely voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 5.6 percentage points (Harmon, Contra Costa Times, 7/22).

The initiative also would require a 48-hour waiting period before minors could receive abortions (Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 6/3). The measure is supported by the Friends of Sarah: The Parental or Alternative Family Member Notification Law, which has supported similar initiatives in 2005 and 2006. Voters rejected the two initiatives.

Some supporters said the apparent increase in support for the measure is partly because of a new provision in the 2008 version, known as Proposition 4, that would allow teens in abusive home situations to have their physician notify another family member that they are seeking abortions. The new language "was designed to address the concerns raised about girls from abusive homes," Katie Short -- co-author of the initiative and legal director for the Life Legal Defense Foundation -- said. She added, "This assuages a lot of peoples' concerns. The opposition played directly to that fear last time, and we've addressed it."

Kathy Kneer, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, said the early support is a reflection of "every parents' natural reaction" that they would want their daughters to talk to them. Voters will reject the initiative once they realize the provision allowing the physician to notify another family member is not without problems, Kneer says. She added that a minor can only use that option if a physician files an abuse report with law enforcement. "What's law enforcement going to do? Come and visit the family?" Kneer said, adding, "I don't think the teen's going to want to risk that. It just doesn't work in the real world." The measure also would allow parents of teens who received abortions without their consent up to four years to sue the physician, which would be a "huge barrier for doctors," Kneer said. She added that the initiative "still fails to protect teens, and it creates legal threats to health providers."

The Campaign for Teen Safety -- supported largely by Planned Parenthood affiliates -- has $3.1 million on hand to campaign against the initiative and is expected to raise more from labor organizations and other groups, the Times reports. Proponents of the initiative have raised about $2 million, but have only $276,000 on hand after the costs of gathering signatures to put the measure on the ballot (Contra Costa Times, 7/22).