Battle Waged Over Parental Notification Law Language

In the months before California's special election, groups on both sides of abortion are battling over language that will appear in the state's voter guide regarding a proposed parental notification law.

Currently, California has few restrictions on abortion. Minors under the age of 18 hold the same rights to abortion as adults.

Proposition 73 is a proposed state constitutional amendment that would require doctors to notify the parents of minors at least 48 hours before performing an abortion. Notification can be waived by a judge if it is in the best interest of the minor. An exception allows abortions to be performed without notification in emergencies. Similar laws exist in 32 other states.

Supporters say that such a law is needed to increase parental involvement when making such a major health decision. Opponents argue that such laws will restrict access to proper health care, without reducing abortion rates.

Both opponents and supporters have submitted statements to be printed alongside the proposed amendment in the state's voter guide. On Thursday, the sponsors of the amendment, Parent's Right to Know, filed a suit in the Sacramento County Superior Court challenging the arguments made by the amendment's opponents.

Parent's Right to Know argued that rebuttal arguments mistakenly imply that all teenagers will be subject to the notification law, when only minors under 18 will be affected.

Supporters also asked for the removal of a statement that says “millions of concerned parents” are opposed to the amendment. They argue that opponents do not provide evidence to support such a claim.

The Campaign for Teen Safety, a group that opposes the amendment, filed suit on Friday. They objected to a rebuttal argument from Parent's Right to Know that claims “these laws reduce minors' pregnancy and abortion rates without danger and harm to minors.”

Campaign for Teen Safety argues that the proposed law will put teens at the risk of unsafe abortions without reducing the number of abortions in the state. The notification law will also lead to increased family conflict, said opponents.

The suits will most likely be heard next week, before the voter guide is printed on August 18. The special election will take place on November 8.