ELECTION 06: California, Oregon
consider parental notification on abortion

By Tom Strode
Nov 3, 2006


Editor’s note: This is the seventh in a series of special preview stories about the 2006 Election.

Today: A preview of parental notification votes in California and Oregon.

Monday: A preview of ballot initiatives nationwide.



WASHINGTON (BP)--Parental notification for an underage girl considering an abortion is a legal requirement favored by three-fourths or more of the American public, but it may not gain approval from the voters of California and Oregon in the Nov. 7 election.

California’s Proposition 85, which would require an abortion doctor to notify a parent in writing 48 hours before performing an abortion on a girl under 18 years of age, barely led in the latest survey. The Field Poll showed 46 percent of likely voters supporting the measure, while 43 percent opposing it, according to a Nov. 2 release. Undecided voters amount to 11 percent.

That is an improvement for backers of the initiative over an early August survey by Field that showed Prop 85 trailing by 45 to 44 percent.

In Oregon, meanwhile, the polls have gone in the opposite direction on the state’s parental notification measure. Measure 43, which also would require 48-hour notice from a doctor to a parent before performing an abortion on a minor, trailed 50 to 43 percent, according to a survey released Nov. 2 and commissioned by The Oregonian and a Portland television station. In late September, Measure 43 led 56 to 38 percent.

The polling swing in Oregon has not deterred supporters of parental notice, said Sarah Nashif, manager of the Yes on 43 campaign.

“We’ve hardly conceded defeat,” Nashif told Baptist Press. “Our own polling shows it closer than they have.

“We’ve actually always known that the race is going to be close ... and always [known] they were going to outspend us,” she said.

California supporters of parental notification are hopeful, even with a narrow lead and a large deficit in money to spend on advertising.

“I would say we’re cautiously optimistic,” said Albin Rhomberg, a spokesman for the Yes on 85 campaign, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Last year, California voters rejected a similar ballot measure by 53 to 47 percent, but that loss came in a special election that saw seven other proposals defeated.

“There was this general tidal wave of opposition to the special election, and we were all caught up in it,” Rhomberg told the Associated Press. “We won a majority of counties, a majority of Assembly districts and a majority of congressional districts.”

Oregon’s Yes on 43 campaign is focusing now on trying to make certain supporters of parental notification cast their ballots, Nashif said.

“It always boils down to who can actually vote,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what they think if they don’t vote.”

Voters in Oregon cast their ballots by mail. Oct. 23 was the last day for ballots to be mailed to voters, and the state’s counties report they have received 20 percent of the ballots already, Nashif said. The Yes on 43 campaign has found in its phone calls to Oregonians that from 40 to 50 percent already have cast their ballots, she said.

Foes of Measure 43 have gained ground among voters because of a recent television ad, Nashif believes. It shows a father becoming angry when he receives a notification letter, implying he might abuse his daughter, Nashif said.

Measure 43, however, includes a provision for a girl to seek a waiver of the law from a judge if he determines it is in her best interest for a parent not to be notified. Such judicial bypass language is in the California initiative as well.

“I think people who only see their ad don’t [understand about the judicial bypass provision],” Nashif said.

Admittedly, California and Oregon are more liberal than most states, but rejection of parental notification would buck an overwhelming trend in the United States.

A CBS News poll in July 2005 showed 80 percent of American adults surveyed favored parental notification before a minor’s abortion. A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics survey in April 2005 had 78 percent in support of a state requiring parental notice. Three-fourths of registered voters favored parental notification in a March 2005 poll by Quinnipiac University.

Parental notification or consent laws that actually are effective are in force in 29 states, according to the National Right to Life Committee. That doesn’t include other states in which judges have blocked enforcement of such laws or that have parental involvement laws NRLC considers ineffective.
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