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CURRENT ISSUE:  October 17, 20055VOL. 43, NO. 18Oakland, CA

State’s bishops urge yes vote on Prop. 73

As California voters go to the polls Nov. 8 to decide on eight ballot propositions, the state’s Catholic bishops are urging a yes vote on Prop. 73, which would require doctors to notify parents when a minor seeks an abortion.

In a statement released Aug. 29, the bishops urged Catholics to promote the initiative as “good public policy” and to vote in its favor at the polls.

Called the Parents’ Right to Know Act by its sponsors, Prop. 73 is a constitutional amendment that would prevent minors from having an abortion until 48 hours after a doctor has informed their parents or legal guardians in writing.

Parents who have been told of the procedure could waive the notification delay, which the initiative terms a “reflection period.” Doctors could also waive the notification if they deemed the abortion a medical emergency.

A judicial bypass would also be provided for cases of physical or sexual abuse by the parent or guardian, and a minor would be guaranteed access to the juvenile court if she is being coerced to have an abortion.

The initiative would require physicians who perform abortions on minors to file reports with the state Department of Health Services. The department would be required to make public a statistical report on abortions on minors that includes numbers by month and county, minor’s ages, stages of pregnancy, types of procedures, number of emergency procedures and number of judicial bypasses.

The state’s bishops have not taken a position on any of the other seven ballot initiatives. For a summary and report of arguments for and against the propositions on the ballot, visit the Web site of the California Catholic Conference: www.cacatholic.org.

Following is the bishops’ statement:
In support of Prop. 73:
The California Catholic Conference of Bishops supports Proposition 73, Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy, Waiting Period and Parental Notification, Initiative Constitutional Amendment, which will appear on the November 2005 ballot. The proposed law, which has been called the Parents Right to Know by its sponsors, would require notification of the parent(s) or guardian(s) of a minor 48 hours before she obtains an abortion, unless a judge determines that such notification places the minor in danger.

The initiative states: “The People of California have a special and compelling interest in and responsibility for protecting the health and well-being of children, ensuring that parents are properly informed of potential health-related risks to their children, and promoting parent-child communication and parental responsibility.” We concur fully in the guarantee of these fundamental parental rights.

We hold that both the young woman’s welfare and society’s common good are best served when family communication is promoted in public policy. A minor faced with a serious emotional, psychological and medical decision needs her parents—their love, their wisdom, their counsel. In addition, society’s common good is enhanced when family integrity is honored and parental
responsibility is respected.

Our Catholic Catechism teaches that the family is the “privileged community” wherein children are meant to grow in wisdom, stature and grace. We are also counseled to work with public authorities to insure that the family’s prerogatives are not usurped.[1]

We are convinced that “the Church must be committed to the task of educating and supporting... people involved in law-making, government and the administration of justice, so that legislation will always reflect those principles and moral values which... advance the common good.”[2]

We strongly encourage Catholics in our state to offer their full support in promoting Proposition 73 as good public policy, and in exercising their citizenship in voting for it in November.
[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos.2206-2209
[2[ “The Church in America,” No. 19, quoting Synod for America, Proposition 72, included in the Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities, 2001





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