Saturday, October 25, 2008

California Proposition 4 Rant

Got an email from a friend asking my opinion on California Proposition 4, Parental notification before abortion law being proposed. This was my rant:

UPDATE: Jonanda42 has given be permission to post her question that got me going on prop 4. Here it is.

Prop 4 is a little more complex for me. Although I am pro choice, having had daughters myself, I have difficulty with the idea that an underage girl could seek an abortion without parental or guardian consent. I do agree, however, that she may be in an environment that might not be condusive to that kind of news and she may be at risk for abuse. But I hope that those cases are few and far between.

What do you think about prop 4?
I certainly hear the cry of parents that care and worry about the choices their children will make. I would hope that every mother daughter relationship has the strength to discuss such an emotionally difficult choice.

I am pro choice, but not in the choice of whether or not to have an abortion, but the choice of how and when to start a family. Sex is fun and it feels good. Some people use this in good ways, and some take advantage of it in really terrible ways.

Many things have been tried through out our history to control breeding and population both in the name of religion and science. Eugenics is just bad social policy, because it is people thinking they are better than nature and can therefore make better choices than an individual. People talk about it like as though as if it was only the Nazi's that ran those types of policies, but they were not. Similar "programs" of different types were going on all around the world, particularly in the US since the 1920's. It doesn't work. The last of a national eugenics program did not end until 1958.

So what does this have to do with abortion and parental consent? People still sympathize with eugenics for its merits, even when we know its horrific dangers as a social policy.

Pro-choice is about that individual freedom. We do not force people to breed any more than we would tell Sarah Palin that she is too old to have a child because of the risk of Down's Syndrome (1 in 8 children of women over 40 have DS). We do not judge people for those kinds of choices, nor do we push people with the law. It is a way that we accept that life has a way of running its own course.

The place we do push people with the law is with child abuse. If a child is obviously abused, or admits to abuse, there are mandatory reporting laws. These I agree with, even if I would criticize CPSs effectiveness, as I have called them myself on more than a few occasions.. Some would likely say that a pregnant minor is proof of abuse... but that is not what this law is trying to address.

The world is a big scary place, and we all try to look out for each other. There is no bigger choice in a persons life than when to start a family. Biologically, and if there is a God what he decided, the time when that natural right comes for a woman to make that choice is the day she becomes fertile. That is just biological law.

Prop 4 tries to manipulate that in a very careful way. We can not know every persons family, but this law is only intended to help one very specific group of people, while neglecting another.

Most kids I think are wrong about how they think their parents would react to an unexpected pregnancy unless it had been previously discussed in great detail. But there are some kids that do know. Some kids are really smart and may know that their parents would disown them, or see them as a murderer if they got an abortion. Maybe the kid lives on the street and has worked very hard to stay away from abusive parents. I can not know what every minors position might be, or the circumstances of their pregnancy. For many that get abortions, as difficult as it is, there is a chance there are even bigger more complicated issues. And there are a lot of kids in bad/other situations. They do need help. This law is not going to provide any kind of help those kids need.

This law adds bureaucracy to an already difficult situation in order to assist strongly religious parents in preventing their children from having abortions. That is the only objective of prop 4. Even voting no, I desperately with there was a proposition to help more of these kids in a way I could be voting yes on. This is NOT it.

Parents need to talk to their kids and help them make good life choices. This starts from the time you as a parent decide to have children. Talk about love, sex, and family values. Give them condoms. Help them get birth control. Remind them that their body is sacred and to share it when it is going to be respected. If they are having strong feelings, encourage them to masturbate in privacy, use a vibrator... just don't go with them to pick it out. You have all the time to care and connect with your child and hope that you have given them all the best.

You pray that with all this work that your child will want to share the details of love and sadness with you. You hope that when they meet someone they love that they may marry, have kids, and make the same happiness that you were so privileged to have, and they will tell you every detail along the way so you can be happy for them...

... and that is what I hope every parent wants

...but there is always that barrier that keeps you from really knowing. That part is individuality. Their uniqueness that makes them who they are that you love is the same thing that means you really can't ever know exactly what is going on in their head, no matter how much you may want to.

So there I think outlines all the fears of the best parents. Prop 4 comes from that love in a way. But it is too much. You have had a lot of time with that kid until that day they become fertile which is so far from what we consider adulthood today.

And hopefully all that means that they would talk to you.

But if for whatever reason they as individuals decide this is something they can't talk to you about, this time, then we need to understand and accept that choice, no matter how difficult that may be. And at that point when they have made their choice, hopefully informed as you raised them to think, is not the time for a doctor to be compelled by the government to insist on opening the lines of communication between parent and daughter.

Maybe there are girls out there that had to grow up a little too fast, need to take things one step at a time, and decide that this isn't the time in their life to start a family. We can't take that power away from them.

End of rant

So that pretty much covers all the various things that go through my head with regard to parental notification laws.

Prop 4 is bad social policy, even if it can sound in the best interest of our children, unfortunately this isn't it. The reality is that it is just an anti-abortion last line of defense that I can not support.

I'll post the original question that inspired this rant, when I get consent :) posted!

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