Third Time's a Charm!

posted by Deborah Ortiz

Tuesday, November 18, 2008, at

We did it again, and this victory was the sweetest: For the third time in four years the same small group of wealthy, conservative men in Southern California threatened to put teenagers at risk by bank rolling a ballot initiative that would force doctors to inform the parents of frightened teens if they wanted an abortion. The largest turnout of California voters in recent history fired back with a resounding "NO!"

We had some extremely tough challenges this time because the presidential election drew so much more of the electorate - including conservative evangelicals who mostly sat out the last time a parental notification proposition was on the ballot. Also, we worried that our reliable voters who had rejected these measures in the past would be so intent on their presidential vote that they might skip other issues on the ballot.

Didn't happen. They saw through the smokescreen of "mandating" family communication.

Our San Jose-based affiliate led in fundraising and we had a huge boost from labor unions. Planned Parenthood Mar Monte spans 40 counties and for the first time we were able to purchase media buys in the Central Valley and in Spanish language media. Our affiliate also led in the greatest number of phone calls to swing voters and we were joined by our activist friends in labor in our region. We thank you for taking up our fight as your own.

We all understand that parents want their daughter to come to them if she decides to have an abortion. But what if she couldn't or wouldn't? What if a girl doesn't come from a loving, supportive family, and she's desperate enough to do anything to end her pregnancy? This law would put teens in real danger.

The ads urged voters to "think outside their bubble." And that's what they did. We got more peopled to vote no in conservative Fresno County than they did in the last parental-notification initiative.

We'd love to think that we won't have to fight this battle all over again. Unfortunately the wealthy backers have already said they will do this again. The anti-choice zealots have figured out that they don't have to torpedo abortion rights by barring entrances to clinics. All they have to do is force us to spend millions of dollars and staff resources to battle the same losing proposition over and over again. It's not democracy, not the will of the people. It's just taking funding away from providing legally protected and essential medical services for contraception, primary care and prenatal care.

Our opponents know that if a large pro-choice state like California adopts a parental-notification law it will lead to even more onerous laws in other states. Their goal is to make abortion illegal and put Planned Parenthood out of business. We're confident that with your help and other progressive organizations, we can continue to protect California teenagers and reproductive rights.

Deborah Ortiz
Vice President, Planned Parenthood, Mar Monte



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