proposition 4, underage abortion, proposition 4 in California, abortion rights in California

California Voters Reject Proposition 4

November 05, 2008 10:28 AM
by Isabel Cowles
California voters rejected Proposition 4, a Constitutional amendment that would require doctors to inform the parents or guardians of underage girls if they sought an abortion.

Proposition 4 a No-Go in California

After a day of suspense, California voters have rejected Proposition 4 by a vote of 52 percent to 48 percent, with nearly every precinct reporting.   

Proposition 4, also known as Sarah’s Law, was one of the most highly contested amendments presented in this election, as it deals with the controversial topic of teen abortion.

If it had been enacted, Proposition 4 would have changed the California constitution to mandate that doctors notify the parents or guardians of minors who intended to get abortions, at least 48 hours in advance of the procedure.

Those in favor of the measure believed it would help protect young women from health risks associated with abortions while also eliminating loopholes in state abortion laws. Those who opposed the measure claimed that Proposition 4 would encourage young women to seek illegal abortions if they were not comfortable discussing the issue with their parents or guardians.  

A field poll published on Nov. 1 suggested that supporters and opponents were in a tight race: 45 percent of likely voters planned to vote Yes, 43 percent planned to vote No and 12 percent were undecided.

The measure has been proposed three times in the last four years, as Proposition 73 in the November 2005 general election and Proposition 85 in the November 2006 general election. Both times, the measure led early in the polls but was ultimately defeated. 

Background: California constitutional amendments

California has a history of amending its state constitution; a few such initiatives were on the ballot this year. Proposition 8 banned gay marriage, and Proposition 1 was a bond measure to help fund a high-speed train between Northern and Southern California. According to Fred Silva, fiscal policy adviser to California Forward, the state is “a very active place, and people want to get in and make policy changes.”

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