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California voters remain hotly divided over a proposed constitutional amendment that would require minors to notify their parents before getting an abortion.
A recent Public Policy Institute poll found supporters of Proposition 4 — Sarah’s Law — slightly in the lead, with 46 percent of likely voters approving the amendment and 44 percent opposing it.
“I think it’s long overdue,” said Tove Ann Purificacion, a Vallejo resident who supports Prop. 4.
Prop. 4 would make it illegal to perform an abortion on someone younger than 18 who has not notified her parent or legal guardian. There is some exception for medical emergencies, and a judge can grant the minor a parental waiver in a private hearing.
Albin Rhomberg, a spokesman for the Yes on 4 campaign, said 34 states, including Arizona, already have parental notification or parental consent laws in place.
“We should join the bandwagon,” said Purificacion, who is pregnant with her second child.
The law is far from experimental and has been proven in those other states, Rhomberg said.
“It just seems insane that a minor has to get permission from their parent to go on a field trip, but they can get away with having an abortion that could endanger their lives,” Purificacion said.
Opponents of the proposition, however, contend that Prop. 4 could put minors seeking an abortion at risk.
“This law won’t affect women that have a good relationship with their parents,” said Jewel Fink, regional director for community services and education for Planned Parenthood of Solano County.
But Fink’s and other opponents’ concerns lie with minors who have poor parental relationships or are in abusive situations.
” ‘If that became the law, is it possible for my boyfriend to just punch me in the stomach so that I wouldn’t have to have the baby?’ That’s a direct quote,” from a teenager who Jo-El Schult recently counseled.
Schult is a community health educator for Planned Parenthood of Solano County.
“What happens to the young women who knows their parents have to be notified, so they just wind up having a baby and throwing it in a Dumpster?” Schult said, highlighting the opposition’s concern that young women will try to circumvent the parental notification law by seeking self-induced or “back-alley” abortions.
“We realize that’s not how every single teenager in the state is, [and] we’re not encouraging teenagers in any way to hide things from their parents,” Schult said.
However, opponents of the amendment still fear for those who are in that situation, she said.
Prop. 4 opponents also believe the amendment would chip away at the right to an abortion.
“They put so many barriers in the way,” Fink said.
Supporters of Prop. 4, however, stress that the amendment simply requires parental notification and does not infringe on the right to an abortion, as perhaps a parental consent law might.

Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News – November 1, 2008
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