Opponents say 'Sarah's Law' deceptive

BOYLE HEIGHTS, Calif. Proposition 4 amends the California State Constitution to require a doctor to notify a teenager's parent, or other adult family member, 48 hours before performing an abortion. California voters turned down two earlier measures due to concern that a teen might have nowhere to turn if she had to tell an abusive parent.

Under Prop 4, another adult could be notified, but the girl would first have to report parents as abusive.

Supporters say it's not a pro-life or pro-choice issue -- they say it's simply letting a parent know if their minor daughter is having a serious medical procedure.

"This is a health and safety issue. Notification laws have been on the books for the past 25 years in 34 other states. They have already gone to the federal courts and they have been upheld in being consistent with Roe versus Wade," said Ellen Malin, who supports Prop 4.

In an exclusive Eyewitness News poll, proposition support outweighed opposition 44 to 31 percent. However, 25 percent of voters are still undecided.

At Planned Parenthood, a spokeswoman opposes the measure. She says it will delay a teen's access to safe medical care. Teachers, nurses and doctors groups oppose it as well.

"Scared pregnant teens who can't go to their parents may take matters into their own hands by seeking back-alley abortions, or even considering suicide," said the spokeswoman.

Phone banks at Planned Parenthood urge voters to reject the measure. Prop 4 is dubbed "Sarah's Law" after a Texas teen that died after an abortion 14 years ago.

Opponents of the proposition say the measure is deceptive.

"California's law today is to protect those vulnerable teenagers because it guarantees them the confidential access to medical care that keeps them safe," said Vince Hall, who opposes Prop 4. "And when you tell a teen who can't tell her parent about a pregnancy that she can't seek medical care either - which is what Prop 4 would do - it puts them in a desperate situation."

But supporters of Prop 4 say protections will be in place for teens in abusive homes. "Every girl in an abusive home will have an opportunity to get protection under law enforcement. So what will happen, is if a girl is being abused, the doctor will have the responsibility to explain all the options available to her, which includes notification of an alternative family member, and also a judicial bypass," said Malin. "If she doesn't want to tell CPS about the abuse in her home, she can get a waiver."

Ultimately, both opponents and supporters of Proposition 4 are saying the same thing: that they want to help the plight of the teenage girl who finds herself pregnant.

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