Monday, November 3, 2008

Election: Last Thoughts

While CPC Watch does not officially endorse any candidate, there are several ballot measures that have been on our radar for some time now. In South Dakota, Colorado, and California, access to contraception and abortion hang in the balance of tomorrow's election.

South Dakota’s Measure 11

In 2006, anti-abortion extremists attempted to ban abortion in all cases. The 2006 measure was defeated by voters. The extreme Measure 11 was again introduced for this election cycle as a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. The measure seeks to effectively ban all abortions in the state, giving only a few exceptions that are so vaguely defined that most doctors say they wouldn’t agree to perform any abortions at all for fear of criminal charges. South Dakota is estimated to be the most difficult state in which to obtain an elective abortion. With only one functioning clinic in the entire state, and the providers in that clinic flown in from Minneapolis, the word “choice” already has very little meaning for South Dakota women.

For more information, see the website of the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families.

Colorado’s Amendment 48

Twenty-one year old law student Kristine Burton and the Colorado for Equal Rights campaign gathered enough signatures this year to put a disturbing ballot initiative onto Colorado’s ballot: Amendment 48, or the “Personhood Amendment.” The passage of this amendment would give personhood not only to a fetus, but to a fertilized egg. This amendment takes anti-choice legislation to the extreme and poses a clear challenge to the commonly-held medical belief that pregnancy does not even begin until a zygote has implanted on the wall of the uterus (which can take up to three days after fertilization occurs). The amendment would outlaw not only abortion, but many forms of contraception as well, such as the IUD, the birth control pill, and emergency contraception. It would also ban some potentially life-saving medical treatments on women who have had sex in the past 72 hours because of possible damage to a fertilized (but unimplanted and therefore undetectable) egg. Women who could potentially become pregnant as result of recent sexual activity could be denied treatments for up to 72 hours out of a doctors’ legal fears that the treatment could damage a fertilized egg. Dr. Andrew Ross, OB/GYN, criticized the amendment as being “bad medicine.” Even Colorado’s Catholic, anti-abortion governor Bill Ritter said the amendment “goes too far” and severely “threatens medical care.”

For more information on this dangerous amendment, see Protect Families, Protect Choices.

California’s Proposition 4

In California, Proposition 4 is a measure that would amend the state constitution to require abortion clinics to notify the parents 48 hours in advance of performing an abortion on a minor. This proposition has been named "Sarah's Law" by supporters. "Sarah" was a young woman (15 years old) who got an abortion in 1994 without telling anybody. She experienced a torn cervix, a relatively harmless complication if reported early. However, "Sarah" did not tell anybody about the excessive bleeding for four days and the cervix became infected. By the time she went to the hospital, the infection had spread and Sarah died.

Opponents of Prop 4 argue that better education and expanded care for minors such as "Sarah" would protect the young women who experience abortion complications. They also argue that parental notification 48 hours before the procedure could put teens at risk of physical abuse, disownment, and further delays in receiving a time-sensitive procedure. Medical groups have stepped up against Prop 4 saying it puts the patient-doctor relationship at risk because young women will not feel as comfortable being completely honest with their medical caregivers about things like rape, drug use, and abuse.

For more information on Prop 4, see the Campaign for Teen Safety.

1 comment:

Deb said...

There is no doubt in my mind that Prop 4 would make things worse, not better, for teens. Extensive studies have shown, for example, that suicide rates amongst pregnant teens are much higher in states with parental notification/consent laws than in states without. This is why so many prominent medical groups and doctors have spoken out against Prop 4.