Fiorina Wants Forced Parental Notification in California

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Fiorina Wants Forced Parental Notification in California

Nicole Knight

The GOP presidential hopeful is lending her support to the latest in a string of unsuccessful California ballot measures to mandate parental notification for minors seeking abortion care.

Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina is lending her support to the latest in a string of perennially unsuccessful California ballot measures to mandate parental notification for minors seeking abortion care in the Golden State.

The California Supreme Court struck down a forced parental notification law nearly 20 years ago and similar ballot measures have repeatedly failed to win sufficient signatures or votes. But this go-around, the former Hewlett-Packard chief is backing a new ballot measure in robocalls to Californians, as Mother Jones reported Friday.

“In California, a 13-year-old girl can have a surgical abortion without either of her parents ever knowing about it,” Fiorina’s voice says in the robocalls.

The measure, backed by the anti-choice group Californians for Parental Rights, would apply to unemancipated minors younger than 18. It would require a physician to notify a parent or legal guardian in writing and impose a 48-hour waiting period, among other mandates. Exceptions would be offered in documented and notarized cases of parental abuse, medical emergency, or through a court petition.

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Doctors who failed to comply would be exposed to legal action.

Analysis by the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office suggests the proposed constitutional amendment would reduce access to first-trimester abortions and cost millions annually to administer.

Fiorina, who has positioned herself as an anti-choice standard-bearer in a crowded Republican field, has condemned Planned Parenthood and relayed suspect tales about an abortion video that media reports indicate does not exist. Advocating for the California ballot measure boosts her anti-abortion credibility in a state where 28 percent of voters registered Republican.

Asked whether the former Silicon Valley executive was paid for her participation, Fiorina’s campaign told Mother Jones that “Carly is proudly pro-life and was not compensated in any way.”

It’s unclear whether Fiorina’s backing will gain the perennial ballot measure any traction.

The proposed restrictions are the fifth attempt in a decade by Jim Holman, the founder of Californians for Parental Rights. A 2011 measure failed to make it on the ballot, and California voters defeated earlier measures, with 52 percent voting against it in 2008.

Mother Jones reported that in 2010 and 2011, Californians for Parental Rights filed ten parental notification measures. None made it on the ballot, but the years-long battle cost Planned Parenthood and its donors more than $17 million, as Kathy Kneer, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, told Mother Jones.

This time around, at least five parental notification mandates are vying for a spot on the November 2016 ballot. In early September, the California Secretary of State’s office reported that two measures had already failed to qualify, falling short of the 585,407 signatures required for a constitutional amendment to make it on the ballot. The deadline for Holman’s proposed initiative to gain sufficient signatures is March 15, 2016.

Stephen Hicks and John Smith, the public contacts for one or more of the slate of measures, didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment.

Thirty-eight states require some form of parental consent or notification, according to the Guttmacher Institute. California, however, has not seen the imposition of major abortion restrictions—such as waiting periods and forced parental involvement.

Research published in 2009 in the journal Perspectives in Sexual and Reproductive Health indicates that parental notice laws in other states have led some minors to postpone abortion until the second or even third trimester to avoid parental notification mandates.