Proposition 4, which would require parental notification before a minor could have an abortion, is as noxious as the two previous, nearly identical ballot measures that sought to turn back the clock on abortion rights. And Californians are as pro-choice as they were back when those measures were defeated. So why is Proposition 4 leading, though narrowly, in recent polls?
Surely voters no longer are misled by the emotional appeal of the title, "Sarah's Law," which refers to a girl who wasn't named Sarah, didn't live in this state and wouldn't have been covered by such a law.
The supporters of Proposition 4 have managed to frame their campaign around two ideas, both misleading, that hold particular appeal for voters. One is that, in addition to allowing girls to seek court permission for an abortion, it will give those who justifiably fear telling their parents an "out" by allowing them to notify another adult relative instead. This would indeed give the measure more credence, if it were true. But in order to use it, the girl would have to accuse her parents, in writing, of child abuse, with the accusation to be forwarded to law enforcement authorities. It's the equivalent of telling girls they can get an abortion by walking into a police station and having their parents arrested.