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Saturday, January 19 , 2019, 9:33 am | Fair 54º


Scott Harris: 4 Reasons for Proposition 4

Let's not further erode families and endanger children because of a few terrible incidents.

Proposition 4 is a proposed amendment to the California Constitution that would prohibit abortions for an unemancipated minor until 48 hours after the physician notifies the parents or legal guardian. It is a direct response to the fact that California law allows doctors to perform chemical and surgical abortions on girls of any age without a parent even being notified. No issue in this country — not Iraq, President Bush, capital punishment or even race — is more divisive or generates more anger and passion than abortion. We now add families and children to the equation.

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Scott Harris
In broad strokes, the pro-Proposition 4 argument is simple. Having an abortion is an incredibly important and difficult decision, one most teenage girls are not capable of making, so parents should not be excluded from the process. Below are four reasons to vote yes on Proposition 4.

» Child safety. The most common anti-Prop 4 argument is, “In a perfect world, all teenage girls would go to their parents when considering whether or not to have an abortion, but it’s not a perfect world and we need to protect those who are justifiably afraid to turn to their parents.”

This position ignores the safeguards built into the initiative. Prop 4 would allows for circumventing parents in a variety of ways: through alternative notification to other adult relatives, exceptions for medical emergencies and court waivers based on clear and convincing evidence of a minor’s maturity or best interests. What Prop 4 doesn’t do is allow a 13-year-old girl, who is scared to tell her parents that she’s made a mistake, simply to stop by Planned Parenthood, make the second most important decision of her life (the first was to get pregnant) without her parents and get an abortion.

An abusive parent is a terrible thing, but no more of a reason to continue eroding parents’ rights — and, more importantly, responsibilities — than automobile accidents are a reason to ban cars, spousal abuse a justification for ending marriage or alcoholism an argument for another failed Prohibition. There are inherent risks in everything we do, and the dangers of a non-notification policy outweigh the specious “advantages” of allowing teens and pre-teens to make this life-altering decision independent of their parents — at a time when they need them the most.

» Common sense. Twelve-, 13- and 14-year-old girls are not allowed to marry, drink, drive, join the military, watch an R-rated movie, get a tattoo or even use a tanning salon without permission from their parents — and, in some cases, not even then. Why? Because they are children and are not emotionally equipped to make these decisions, or to deal with, or even understand, the consequences.

We differentiate in this society between children and adults, and for good reason. If we believe that children are ready to begin making decisions at an earlier age, wouldn’t we want to start with whether they can visit a tanning salon and work up to whether to end the life of a fetus?

» Health. Having an abortion may be the most difficult decision a woman ever makes, and is certainly the most difficult decision that a teen — or pre-teen — girl could face. The post-abortion emotional and physiological ramifications will continue for months or even years.

What if there are complications from the surgery? The parents would have no idea and would not be equipped to make proper medical decisions regarding their daughter. The supporters of this initiative refer to it as Sarah’s Law, because of a young lady who died of complications after an abortion. Many observers believe that this death could have been prevented had the parents known about the abortion.

» Family. This is a family matter. The decision to have an abortion is hard enough, and in 99.9 percent of the cases, a young girl should discuss it with her parents and, if all possible, the baby’s father and his parents, too. It probably won’t be an easy discussion, and it is certainly not one that anyone looks forward to having. However, it is still the parents’ responsibility to be involved, and as hard as it is to raise a family today, the last thing that parents need is an easy way to be circumvented at such a critical time.

Having an abortion is a difficult enough decision for a woman, much less a pre-teen child. Raising a family today, under any circumstances, is quite challenging. Let’s not further erode families and endanger children because of a few terrible, and terribly sensationalized, incidents.

A good law speaks to the majority and protects the minority, and Proposition 4 does both. Come Nov. 4, vote yes on Proposition 4 to protect families and, most importantly, our children.

Scott Harris is a political commentator. Read his columns and contact him through his Web site, www.scottharris.biz, or e-mail him at [email protected]

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