Parental notification measure cleared to circulate

The proponent of a new proposed ballot measure to require parental notification before a doctor can provide an abortion to an unemancipated minor can start collecting petition signatures, Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced today.

Déjà vu? Perhaps that’s because California voters have faced similar parental-notification measures three times in the past five years:

  • Proposition 4 of 2008: 52 percent voted ‘no’
  • Proposition 85 of 2006: 54.2 percent voted ‘no’
  • Proposition 73 of 2005: 52.8 percent voted ‘no’
  • So, here we go again. The Attorney General’s official title and summary for the measure is:

    REQUIRES PARENTAL NOTIFICATION BEFORE TERMINATING PREGNANCY OF FEMALE UNDER 18. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Changes California Constitution to prohibit abortion for unemancipated minor until physician notifies parent or legal guardian. Provides exceptions for medical emergency, parental waiver, or parental abuse documented by notarized statement from law enforcement, protective services, or certain adult relatives. Permits court to waive notice if court finds that minor is sufficiently mature or waiver is in her best interest. Requires physicians to report abortion information to Department of Public Health. Allows physicians to be sued for violating these provisions. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Potential unknown net state costs of several million dollars annually for health and social services programs, court administration, and state health agency administration combined. (10-0018.)

    Proponent John Smith has to collect valid signatures from at least 694,354 registered California voters by Nov. 29 in order to qualify this measure to go on the ballot in 2012. Smith had put four versions of a parental-notification measure into circulation in December, but none qualified for this year’s ballot.

    Right after Prop. 4 failed in 2008, I wrote a story saying its backers intended to make sure that three strikes didn’t equal an out. “We almost feel an obligation to go forward,” Prop. 4 spokesman Albin Rhomberg said at the time, adding supporters were “heartened and encouraged” by Tuesday’s results despite the measure’s defeat following heavy spending against it from Planned Parenthood’s California affiliates and the state Democratic Party. “We do feel we’ve made progress, we do feel we’ve gotten significant benefit from the campaign because more people know about it.”

    Rhomberg had said support for the concept was still polling at about 70 percent in California, and the measure’s financial backers – particularly San Diego Reader owner, publisher and editor Jim Holman, and vintner and former Assemblyman Don Sebastiani – remained committed to the cause. Campaign manager Charles Gallagher had said the state’s growing Latino population and voter registration was a good omen for future attempts.

    Josh Richman

    Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

    • Elwood

      John Smith?

      They’re kidding, right?

    • John W


    • Andy Nevis

      This could be quite smart, actually. It is at least somewhat likely that the state will do once again in 2012 what it did in 2008, that is hold separate presidential and regular primaries. Assuming it qualifies, this measure would go on the presidential ballot, which would have extremely high republican turnout since the democrats won’t have a competitive primary. That could provide the bump to get this over the top. Even if all the primaries are on the same ballot, we can still expect higher GOP turnout because of the presidential race.