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Thursday, October 13, 2005

PARENTAL NOTIFICATION: Here in California, a female middle school student gets a headache and asks the nurse for an Advil. She's told by the school: We've got to get your parents' permission first. Here's the premise: Public schools don't dispense medicine to minors without parental authorization. The same underage girl wants an abortion but doesn't want her parents to know? Not a problem, say opponents of Proposition 73 requiring parental notification. This battle has already been fought in other states; the arguments on both sides are familiar. What's interesting in the California campaign is the pitched rhetoric of the opponents, for instance these Orwellian editorial comments from the San Francisco Chronicle:
In cases when one or both parents are vehemently anti-abortion -- perhaps even to the point of regarding it as murder -- they might go to extreme lengths to coerce a young woman to carry the pregnancy to term. In such situations, notification could be tantamount to a consent requirement.
"Even to the point of regarding [abortion] as murder." The phrase conveys the editorial writer's pure astonishment that any sane, sensible person might reach such a conclusion. Whoa. No matter what your views on the "choice" question, could we at least begin to acknowledge that those who consider abortion to be taking a life, are acting in accord with their beliefs when they seek to persuade a pregnant woman to consider the life she's carrying? The left regularly affords a similar acknowledgment to those who show up at San Quentin to oppose the latest instance of capital punishment, usually demanding to know how a civilized society can justify strapping down a prisoner for a lethal injection. For hardcore activists in the abortion-as-sacrament movement, all is not lost if Proposition 73 passes. Girls who fear telling their parents can try to persuade a judge to waive the parental notification requirement. Yes, that's an "extra step." But, hey: Because abortion arguably causes the death of an unborn child, maybe — oh, just perhaps — a majority of California voters will decide that the extra step is not an unreasonable imposition. That school nurse would probably be just as glad to give the girl an Advil, rather than having to pick up the phone to track down a parent first. Oh, the obstacles, the gauntlets, the barriers to convenience...