Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Oregon Ballot Measure 43

More local blogging. Only one week until ballots are due!

Ok, I've been very slow about all this ballot measure blogging, as the time to vote is nae and considering that here in Oregon we all vote by mail, many of you have probably already voted, rendering this commentary mute.
Well, I'm trudging on anyway.

I knew how I felt about this measure from the moment I read the title. I think it's probably no surprise to folks to read this blog to know that I am most adamantly anti-abortion. However, I'm also quite pragmatic when it comes down to it, and realize that pro-abortion folks have a solid base of legal defense in the original Roe v. Wade decision more than 30 years ago. However, the original decision, rendered by Justice Blackmun, never gave the woman absolute right to her body and pregnancy throughout the entire term of her pregnancy.
Although the results are divided, most of these courts have agreed that the right of privacy, however based, is broad enough to cover the abortion decision; that the right, nonetheless, is not absolute and is subject to some limitations; and that at some point the state interests as to protection of health, medical standards, and prenatal life, become dominant. We agree with this approach.
Blackmun says this in a number of ways. The entire decision is quite a read, and gives a tedious history of abortion, from ancient Greek times (which I thought pointless) to the last couple hundred years, including English common law, which influenced the state laws in question. One of the interesting battles was the concept of the "quickening," which determined at time when the baby first moves in the womb, and was the separation between misdemeanors and much tougher laws. But you don't want to hear my opinion on Bush's anti-Dialation and Extraction bill now, do you.

What I'm trying to get at is that from the very start of this controversy, the judges gifting the woman the right to terminate pregnancy seemed to think that it wasn't an absolute right, but most pro-abortion folks are loath to give even the slightest inch in law from their absolute abortion-under-any-circumstance position.

Measure 43, is one of those instances where I think that it's in the State's interest to maintain the responsible relationships between daughters and their parents until some legal age, like 18. Parents are typically responsible for their children until then, so I think this makes sense.
The only things I would expect to be in this bill as exceptions to this rule are 1. If there's a medical emergency and there's no time to contact the parents or guardians and 2. If there's some unhealthy relationship with the parents or guardian (abuse or some such). Both of these instances are taken care of by the measure.

I'm not going to spend much time with the Arguments in Favor. I stand in the same place, and most of them I don't need to comment on. Some of the arguments are dumb, like the "44 other states have this, why can't we," which can't be seriously applied to the benefit of any law on its own merits. The arguments are worth reading though, as they give a stirring picture of what some parents (and children) have gone through because of the unwise decisions of girls not ready to make them on their own.
But there are a lot of them, so skim.

Arguments against are many.
1. Many of the arguments still claim that it would be unsafe for girls with abusive parents, as if they haven't really read the entire measure. One of the opponents stated that, although there are exceptions, the legal mess would create hardship on the teen. Which I find unconvincing considering the Dept of Human Services empathy and Plan Parenthood's support, I'm sure they would do most of the footwork.

2. You shouldn't mandate family communication. I found this one interesting considering, as the proponents of this measure remind us, that state regulations require minors to get ears pierced. You would think this was a no-brainer.

3. Doctors who don't do this will be subject to lawsuits and might lose their licenses. Yes? Is there a point there?

To cut this short, I believe the concern that the opponents have for this, and I'm sure that you're going to have an occasional case where the teen is subject to a family that abuses here, but I think that the fears, and actual cases, of teens who would have been put into a better position had their parents known about it are far more compelling, and in my opinion more serious.
What I can imagine here is that when a majority of girls are not telling their parents, it's not because they're afraid of being beaten. It's because they're afraid of being rejected by the parents.
I have a daughter myself. If this happened to my family, I would hope that she would tell me. But if she felt like I wouldn't understand, or that I would hate her because of my value system, I would want that check in place. I remember being 15 years old. 16 years old. Do you? Do you really think that kids that age can make life altering decisions for themselves without the council of their parents?

I'm voting: YES

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