The Daily Astorian
What is it?
Measure 43 would throw a new wrinkle into Oregon's abortion policy, which historically has reflected the pro-choice viewpoint. The new twist focuses on pregnant women 15 to 17 years old.
Where did it come from?
A measure similar to this was rejected by the voters in 1990. The 1996 Oregon Legislature passed a parental notification bill, which was vetoed by Gov. John Kitzhaber. During the 2005 Oregon Legislature, a similar measure passed the House of Representatives, but died in the Senate.
What would it do?
This measure would require physicians or others performing an abortion on a woman 15 to 17 years old to notify the woman's parents within 48 hours of being asked for their services. If the woman did not want her parents notified, there would be a confidential hearing before an administrative law judge to determine whether that request could be granted.
There is no exemption for pregnancies arising from rape or incest.
The measure also authorizes administrative discipline for physicians who fail to comply.
The anti-abortion movement has used parental notification as a means to chip away at abortion rights. The strategy has been successful. Twelve states have parental notification statutes. Another 23 require parental consent. Oregon historically has been pro-choice. Pro-life initiative campaigns have repeatedly failed.
The deepest reality of this measure is that not every family is capable and loving. Many adolescent women cannot talk to their parents about a pregnancy because of a family context of violence and substance abuse which they have fled.
The lack of an exception for rape and incest is especially cruel and thoughtless.
The administrative bypass clause of this initiative is useful, and some teens might have the wherewithal to navigate the process. But many would not.
What's wrong with parental notification? In the case of a young woman living under the same roof as her parents, most of us would expect there to be some consultation with Mom and Dad. The Oregonian in 1995 reported a survey that indicated Oregon parents were consulted by their minor-age daughters on the matter of seeking an abortion in 75 percent of the cases tracked by the Oregon Medical Association.
Having parents involved in their daughter's life in a loving way is the best outcome. But the reality is that in many adolescent pregnancies, the pregnant woman is fleeing a socially destructive and hostile family life.
Parental notification always has been a way for the pro-life lobby to bite off a share of the middle of the electorate and blunt the basic notion of a woman's right to choose. That describes Measure 43.