We all want to encourage parental involvement and strong, healthy family communication. We have learned that the best way to promote good family communication and strong values is to start early.
But teaching about responsibility and values has to happen before a young woman gets pregnant, not by government-mandated parental notification in a flawed measure like 43.
Not So Simple
Measure 43 has no exceptions for rape or incest, and this government mandate takes a delicate situation out of the hands of doctors and into the hands of understaffed and overwhelmed agencies.
At this traumatic time in their lives, these young women need help from supportive adults, counselors, doctors and nurses, not images of the consequences of a certified letter coming in the mail. This law would only serve to push away trained professionals like doctors, nurses and Planned Parenthood. They could be sued and lose their license if the notification is not received for any reason. The doctor gets punished, the young woman gets punished, everybody loses.
Measure 43 may seem reasonable, but in the real world this measure may bring on more harm than good.
The unintended consequences of sending a notice of pregnancy through the mail could backfire in unimaginable ways.
Imagine what may happen when an abusive parent gets the mail that day. Imagine what the young woman may do to avoid that scene. Imagine the further abuse, the violence, or even the death that could result.
Measure 43 is more complicated than it seems at first. Oregon does not need a new law telling our doctors how to practice medicine. It does not need a government mandate involved in the most private parenting and family decisions. And it does not need a new layer of government-mandated parental notification.
Not at all Safe
This government mandate may sound good at first, but the problem is that not all families are the same. In the real world some teens can’t talk to their parents, and this measure can’t mandate communication that isn’t already there.
The mandate in Measure 43 to force a doctor to send a certified letter to a parent who may be responsible for the abuse raises the risks. Measure 43 won’t protect teen safety. In fact it puts at-risk teens at greater risk of provoking a violent response and escalating conflict. Even in stable families, the threat of a certified letter could frighten teens away from the very support they need, at the time they need it most.