In California, including here in Kern County, a teen girl may walk into the school office, inform officials she needs to be excused for an “undisclosed medical reason” and leave campus, no questions asked, no parent informed.
Should she require a ride to the local abortion clinic, a school nurse or counselor may take her. If she’s in a car accident on the way or injured during the abortion procedure, neither the school nor district is liable.
Here’s the kicker. When mom and dad notice their daughter’s excused absence and call the school to find out where she was during those hours, school officials aren’t allowed to tell them.
Is this not the very model of government overreach?
Most Californians seem to think so. A statewide survey by the Public Policy Institute of California found that 68 percent of us, including majorities across party lines, favor parental notification when minor girls have abortions.
In each of the 36 states that have implemented parental notification laws, teen pregnancy and abortion rates have dropped, often significantly. Why? Because when parents are involved, their children make safer, healthier choices. We in California have a rare opportunity to affect actual change by getting the Parental Notification and Child and Teen Safety Initiative on the ballot in November. The initiative simply returns to parents their inalienable right to parent their own children by requiring that a physician notify them at least 48 hours before performing abortions on their minor daughters.
Parental notification is a no brainer, but it’s not going to be on the ballot unless enough signatures are collected to get it there, which is why we in the pro-life movement are looking for help from those whose proclamations of pro-life advocacy we take as sincere.
Some, like Catholic Church leadership, are already up to their elbows in the effort, sending petition packets to local parishes and encouraging signature drives between masses.
Up in Sacramento, Assemblywoman Shannon Grove is holding up her end, investing much of her considerable energy in a thankless and quixotic quest to pass pro-life laws through California’s staunchly pro-abortion legislature.
Congressman Kevin McCarthy isn’t coasting either. Recognizing that Congressional Democrats would rather drive the government over a cliff than defund the sacred cow that is Planned Parenthood, McCarthy and his fellow pro-life lawmakers last month strategically sidestepped that quagmire, instead passing the budget reconciliation bill and setting a critical precedent demonstrating that Congress can work with a future pro-life president to defund the abortion behemoth once and for all.
In the light of those herculean efforts, I’m compelled to ask my Protestant and evangelical peeps to set aside their distaste for any solution that’s remotely political and ask themselves if we’re doing all we can do protect our underage daughters and preborn children. Those Facebook memes we’re so fond of posting? Those hashtag campaigns? Even our protest marches? Nothing wrong with those if all we want to do is make noise. They fall short if we want to make a difference.
Churches and individuals interested participating in this effort may contact me for petitions at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit caparentalrights.org. We have until the first week in March to get the job done.
Marylee Shrider is executive director of Right to Life of Kern County.