Proposition 85 would require doctors to notify a minor's parent or legal guardian 48 hours before performing an abortion. Parental consent is not required, only a 48-hour waiting period. The minor can apply for a waiver from a judge, and a physician may perform an abortion without notification in a medical emergency. The initiative also requires that physicians report abortions, and that the State compile statistics.
In 1953, state law was amended to allow minors to receive, without parental consent or notification, the same types of prenatal medical care available to an adult. Based on this law and later developments, minors were able to obtain abortions in California without parental consent or notification."
In 1987, the state legislature amended the law to require that minors obtain parental consent before getting an abortion, but the amendment was challenged in court. Ten years later, in 1997, the California Supreme Court struck down the law on grounds that it violated the minor's constitutional right to privacy.
Since then, anti-abortion activists have shifted their attention from parental consent to parental notification. Proposition 85 is nearly identical to November 2005's Proposition 73, which failed 53-47%, but came closer to passage than any other proposition on the ballot. For a detailed summary of issues and developments around Proposition 73, see the IGS Library Hot Topic Proposition 73: Parental Notification of Abortion. Proponents of Proposition 85 say that they reintroduced an almost identical version of last year's parental notification measure because they believe that Proposition 73's defeat was due not to its substance, but because it was on the ballot in a special election along with a host of other unpopular measures sponsored by Governor Schwarzenegger that went down to resounding defeat. The proponents of Proposition 85 view the November 2006 election as a way of affirming support for their measure in an election with more normal circumstances and voter turnout patterns.
Proposition 85 would:
- Amend the state constitution to prohibit abortion for any unemancipated minor until 48 hours after a physician notifies the minor's parent or guardian — with exceptions for medical emergencies or in the case that a parent or guardian has waived the right to be notified.
- Allow a minor to obtain a court order waiving notification if the minor can demonstrate "clear and convincing evidence of minor's maturity or best interests."
- Mandate various reporting requirements, including reports from physicians on the number of abortions that they perform on minors.
- Authorize monetary damages against physicians who break the law.
- Require minor's consent for abortion procedure to be carried out, with certain exceptions, and permit judicial relief if consent is coerced.
Proposition 85 eliminates the language in Proposition 73 which refers to "the death of an unborn child, a child conceived but not yet born."
The campaign in favor of Proposition 85 was financed primarily with $2.1 million in donations from Jim Holman, the publisher of the San Diego Reader, one of the largest-circulation alternative weeklies in the United States (he is also the publisher of four Catholic lay newspapers). Holman is a long-time anti-abortion activist who has a history of financing anti-abortion measures and campaigns to unseat judges with ostensibly pro-abortion leanings. Holman also contributed the lion's share of the funding for Proposition 73. The proponents of Proposition 85 also received $600,000 from the Sonoma-based winemaker Don Sebastiani & Sons; $186,000 from Paul Griffin, a homebuilding firm executive and member of the board of directors of Santa Paula-based Thomas Aquinas College, and his spouse Martha Griffin; $137,000 from Robin Arkley, the founder of real estate asset acquisition firm Security National Holding Company LLC; $50,000 from the Christian Community Theater in El Cajon; $50,000 from Serving Hands International, a San Diego-based anti-poverty organization; $25,000 from James Bisenius, an Oregon money manager; and $16,000 from the Napa-based Life Legal Defense Foundation, a foundation with the stated mission "to give innocent and helpless human beings of any age, particularly unborn children, a trained and committed defense against the threat of death, and to support their advocates in the nation's courtrooms."
The campaign opposing Proposition 85 raised around $2.7 million, much of that money coming from various Planned Parenthood affiliates in such locations as San Bernardino County, Orange County, Los Angeles County, San Jose, San Mateo, and Pasadena. Other money for the No on 85 campaign, which calls itself Campaign for Teen Safety, comes from Andrew Grove, a senior advisor to Intel Corporation, and his spouse Eva ($101,000); Leaders for an Effective Government, an independent expenditure committee originally founded by the former State Senator John Burton and whose chief consultant is Democratic Party activist Gale Kaufman, who has ties to Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez ($100,000); Quinn Delaney, the president of the Akonadi Foundation, and Oakland-based organization whose stated mission is " to work with others to eliminate racism, with a particular focus on strategies that address structural and institutional racism" ($50,000); Franklin Johnson, a Palo Alto asset management company owner ($49,500); and the actress Candice Bergen ($2,500).
Arguments For and Against
Proponents of the initiative claim that their main concern is the safety of girls, not eliminating abortion. They argue that minors need help to make important health decisions. They state that the 48-hour waiting period would ensure that parents or guardians have a realistic opportunity to consult with their child and explore her options before she makes an irrevocable decision.
Opponents argue that parental notification laws do nothing to keep teens safe or promote family communication. They hold that the real outcome of these laws is delayed medical care for the most vulnerable teens, putting them at risk for health complications.
Official Voter Information
Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor's Pregnancy
Analysis by California Legislative Analyst, 2006.
Key Websites and Links
Podcast: Forum with Michael Kransy (KQED)
Voters closely divided on Props. 87, 86 and 85 one week before the election. Field Poll, Release 2215, Nov. 2, 2006.
Big early leads for Prop. 86 (cigarette taxes), Prop. 87 (alternative energy/oil tax) and especially Prop. 83 (sex offenders).
Field Poll, Release 2208, Aug. 8, 2006.
Reports and Studies
Adolescents & Parental Notification for Abortion: What can California Learn from the Experience of Other States?
The Bixby Center for Reproductive Health Research Policy. University of California, San Francisco, 2005.
[Website archived in Internet Archive]