One of the most important measures on the ballot (at least from my perspective) was almost lost in the coverage of the recent California elections. The Los Angeles Times buried it on page A32 (Nov. 8th) in a tiny block within a large table of local election results. Proposition 85 went down to defeat, perhaps leaving many pro-life voters perplexed or distraught. A yes vote on 85 would have change[d] the California Constitution to require a doctor to notify a parent or guardian at least 48 hours before performing an abortion on a minor (from the League of Women Voters web site). Seems reasonable to me—one little restriction on abortion that could help make it rare. But opponents maintained that vulnerable teens from violent, abusive homes would be at further risk because their parents will delay or deny them access to needed medical care and counseling.
When Prop 85 failed to pass, I couldn’t help but think of my teen son’s medical condition. Kyle was born with achondroplasia, a type of dwarfism, and suffers daily headaches. We arranged with his public high school to allow him to take two over-the-counter pain relievers when he feels one coming on. This process required a doctor’s note and that the medication be stored and administered by the school nurse. At the start of this school year, my wife and I forgot to renew the note (an annual requirement) so when Kyle suffered a migraine he had to go without medication. My wife and I felt terrible when Kyle begged us to get the doctor’s note. It only took a couple of days but in the meantime, Kyle suffered. I tried to get him to just put some tablets in his backpack to take during a break, but Kyle did not want to risk being caught “with drugs” on campus. How ironic that if I had a teen daughter at the same school, she could potentially get an abortion without my wife or me knowing. A major medical procedure requires no parental notification, but a dosage of pain medication to relieve a congenital condition requires medical approval and onsite supervision. Go figure.
Given the lack of attention Prop 85 received, both before and after voting day, it appears that California voters (or at least the media) are more concerned about whether gasoline prices will rise or if we’ll improve freeways. Maybe certain public figures have proved successful in their attempts to marginalize evangelicals (and other pro-life people) as dangerously ignorant, intolerant zealots who find a tiny blastocyst compelling but would destroy the planet because their religious beliefs predict such an apocalypse. Boy, we have a long way to go to develop a “culture of life” in this country. For my part, I think I’ll review some good resources and find ways to persuade people one at a time.