As per usual with propositions that are based on draconian measures, there is all sorts of misinformation regarding Proposition 4 here in California. While the proposition aims to make it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to have access to an abortion without parental consent, Prop 4 is advertising itself with the logo “stop child sexual predators.”
Just this morning, as I drove onto campus, I saw a large sign with the above logo. How does criminalizing abortion have anything to do with stopping sexual predators? This is blatant misinformation and propaganda of the ugliest kind. Orwell (and Sanger) are rolling in their graves…
Rather than being anything remotely related to “sexual predators,” Prop 4 aims to be another nail in the Roe coffin. As the subtitle of an editorial from the LA Times, notes, “Proposition 4 isn’t really about parental notification; it’s an attack on the right to an abortion.” This odious proposition being touted in California as a “stop predators” law is also called “Sarah’s Law.” The story behind this name, as the piece in the LA Times documents, reveals a great deal:
“Sarah” was, according to Proposition 4 supporters, a 15-year-old girl who died from an abortion gone wrong 14 years ago, a death that might have been prevented had her parents been notified beforehand. Much of that is false. The girl’s name wasn’t Sarah; she lived in Texas, not California; and though she was 15, she already had a child and was in a common-law marriage, which means she wouldn’t have been covered by the law Californians are being asked to consider.
Wow! The scare tactics and deception surrounding Prop 4 is off the charts. While Prop 4 pretends to be about “teen safety,” what it is really about is eradicating reproductive freedom and providing the first legal step to outlawing abortion in California. Moreover, this is the third attempt to pass such a measure. Shouldn’t there be some sort of limit as to how many times we have to vote this down?
The proponents of this measure are acting like toddlers, hoping if they ask again and again and again the answer might finally be yes. Here is the scenario dramatized in this way – with a child who keeps asking the same question in slightly different ways in hopes of finally garnering a ‘yes.’ (The role of the ‘child’ represents Prop 4 proponents – imagine a man-child who does not ever face being pregnant in order to accord with the fact that those without pregnancy capabilities (MEN!) make the majority of repro rights laws; the role of the “Mommy” represents prop 4 opponents — imagine a feminist mother who understands that women’s advancements, health, well-being etc are directly related to their ability to own and control their own reproductive capacities):
“Mommy, can we please outlaw abortion?”
“Please, mommy. I want to protect teenagers from the dangers of abortion. Plus, I like the bible.”
“No. Abortion is a very safe procedure, safer in fact than pregnancy. And, your personal fondness for the bible should not translate into laws affecting a woman’s right to make decisions about her own life and body.”
“Please, please mommy. I want to stop sexual predators and I don’t like baby killing!”
“No. Don’t be ridiculous. Outlawing abortion will do nothing to stop sexual predators. This may be over your head, but sexual violence and abuse is linked to our patriarchal society that champions violent masculinity NOT to a female’s ability to control her own reproductive capacity. And, Roe V. Wade never did give absolute abortion rights. Abortions in the third trimester have always been limited to those cases where the mother’s life is at risk or the fetus is not viable. Plus, an embryo, zygote, and fetus is not a “baby.” You are mixing terms, sonny!”
“But, mommy, please? Life begins at conception!”
“No. The way you are characterizing life is simplistic. If the embryo/zygote/fetus cannot survive outside the womb on its own, does it represent an individual life? A potential life, maybe, but not a ‘baby’ that could survive without relying on its mother’s body/womb. In this type of scenario, the ‘life’ of the fetus is given far more precedence than the ‘life’ of the mother. Please refrain from throwing around terms like ‘life’ until you understand the complexities of the argument.”
“But, Mommy, please, can we? Can we just outlaw abortion? Pretty please?”
“No. Stop asking! Now run off and do something useful. And leave your sister alone!”
So, this dramatization might seem a bit of a stretch, but what I am trying to convey is that the Pro-4 group is acting like spoiled children who just want their way – they are lying to get what they want and trying to tug on the heartstrings of voters with misinformation. Despite the continual rejection of such propositions (this will be the THIRD TIME in California!), and despite the hard work of groups like The Feminist Majority Foundation, the “children” (re: anti-choicers) keep asking the question! In so doing, they ignore the fact that most teens already inform their parents of pregnancies. And, although the anti-choicers claim Prop 4 has loopholes that would allow girls/young women with abusive parents an out, the hoops one has to jump through to be able to avoid parental consent are preventative. How many 12 year old girls that are pregnant as a result of sexual abuse by their father are going to make a written accusation to take to the authorities or go before a judge to petition to avoid parental notification? How will said twelve your old get to the court? What will she tell her parents she is doing? Seems like this “judicial bypass” would create the need to deceive and sneak around as well as likely require girls/young women to try and navigate transportational needs and the court system on their own. Yeah, but the law is about “protecting and helping teens.” BS!
What a passage of Prop 4 would do is promote UNSAFE abortions, not curtail the number of abortions. Prop 4 is not going to make teens have any less sex, it is not going to do anything to promote safe sex or the use of contraceptives, it is not going to do one damn thing to “stop sexual predators.” If anything, teens who would have likely told their parents about their pregnancies might feel less inclined to do so when this sharing of information is mandated by law. Wouldn’t focusing on good, trusting, open communication with one’s child/teenager be the best option for parents/caregivers to take? Does this sort of thing really need a law? And what message does this give to children/teens about personal responsibility and maturity? Do we really want to raise a generation of youths who are forced into revealing information by law rather than by choice?
When I was in high school in the late 80s, I recall a number of stories of attempted self-induced abortions – and this was in the pre-Bush empire days when there was a lot more access to family planning clinics, etc. The most horrific example involved a good friend of mine who was afraid to tell her mother that she was pregnant as her mother was already verbally abusive and controlling in the extreme. It was just her and her mom, with no support of involvement on the part of the father, and they were financially struggling. Thus, she had no financial means to seek out an abortion, let alone the car that would be needed to get her to the clinic in our no-public-transportation locale. So, she opted for a hanger. Her mother found her passed out, surrounded by a pool of blood. She nearly bled to death. This was in 1987 – not 1957! If this was happening pre-evangelical USA, what must be happening now? And how much worse would laws like Proposition 4 make things?
Before the passage of Roe V Wade, the number of illegal abortions occurring each year was in the range of 1 million – this is an estimate as this 1 million number represents women willing to divulge such information. Thus, the actual number of yearly abortions pre-Roe is likely much higher. Would we like to go back to the pre-Roe days of knitting needles, wire hangers, bleach solutions, Drano douches and the like? Um, NO! No! No! No! (Sorry for the repetition — the anti-choicers seem to have trouble hearing “No” when it comes to their desires to curtail reproductive rights.) The slogan for the Yes on 4 group should NOT be “stop sexual predators” but “Bring back the wire hanger!” Sadly, even if this were the slogan accompanying Yes on 4 signs, there are still all too many people – some of them women – who would vote yes.
If this disturbs those of you in California, go here to sign a pledge, donate, or learn about No on 4 events in your area. And, go here to see a No on 4 video by the Feminist Majority Foundation, and, of course, vote NO on 4 come election day