While 39 states have some form of parental notification requirements to protect minors, a girl in California as young as 10 or 11 can receive an abortion without her mother’s or father’s knowledge. Nevertheless, earlier this week, the Assembly Health Committee voted down ACA 5 (Grove, R-Bakersfield) a measure that would require parental notification before a minor has an abortion.
While present in virtually every other area of a young girl’s physical, mental and spiritual health life, California parents remained locked out when it comes to these “secret” abortions.
The history of the effort in California to pass a constitutional amendment requiring that parents of a minor be informed prior to her abortion spans the last three decades. In 1987, the California legislature passed and the Governor signed a bill requiring consent from a parent or guardian or a court waiver before an abortion could be performed on a minor. The new law was immediately challenged in court, and after 10 years of litigation, it was ruled unconstitutional by the California Supreme Court.
Parental notification propositions like ACA 5 have been on the California ballot three times since the 1997 Supreme Court decision: 2005 (Proposition 73); 2006 (Proposition 85); and 2008 (Proposition 4)—each time suffering defeat by a close margin. Polls consistently show that a majority of Californians approve of parental notification, but when that policy is placed in an initiative, supporters are hugely outspent and the voters are swayed using scare tactics.