Friday, October 03, 2008

Prop 4-Related Articles May Be Suspect

Below is an email sent to Dr. Morse:

I just wanted to let you know that syndicated columnist Tom Elias, in his latest column, has totally fabricated "studies" and "case histories" of girls allegedly dying and being maimed from illegal abortions and "the percentage of back alley abortions go[ing] up" in states with parental notification laws.


This goes way beyond expressing his opinion or even getting his facts a little off. It's bald-faced lies.
Just when we have finally gotten to the point where Planned Parenthood itself doesn't try to claim this sort of thing, Elias goes and makes up stuff to help them out. Yesterday, I was on the radio with a representative of PP, and after I said that the opposition could not point to a single case of a girl being harmed by a parental involvement law, the moderator asked her what her response was. The best she could do was that these laws "delay" girls in getting counseling.

Unfortunately, his column is syndicated in a lot of papers in California, including the LA Daily News yesterday. We have written a response (see below) but we can use all the help we can get to respond to this and also to head it off, as this column pops up in paper after paper this week.

We need to set the record straight.

Here is this woman's response:

In warning his readers about Proposition 4, the parental notification initiative, Tom Elias makes some bold assertions about “case histories” showing girls getting back alley abortions or self-aborting when faced with the prospect of a parent being notified. His claims are pure, unadulterated fiction. Not even Planned Parenthood, the main opposition to Proposition 4, has made claims as wild as these.

There are no case histories, no studies, no support at all for Elias’s oh-so-scientific sounding proclamations. The opponents of Prop 4 are unable to point to a single case of a minor being harmed by a parental involvement law. But with friends in the media like Mr. Elias around to fabricate “studies”, why would they need facts or evidence? It’s in the newspaper; it must be true.

Moving from full lies to half-lies, Mr. Elias states that, under Prop 4, a minor from an abusive home could only get a waiver to tell another adult family member if there was a “formal record” or “formal history” of abuse by a parent. That’s incorrect.

Prop 4 allows the doctor to notify another adult family member in place of a parent whenever a girl states in writing that she has been the victim of abuse by either parent. The doctor then follows the same notification procedure for the adult relative that would have been followed for the parent, and the abortion may take place within days. At the same time, the doctor reports the abusive situation to the proper child welfare authorities, so that the girl can receive the help she needs.

Compare what happens to Mr. Elias’s hypothetical Susie, beaten regularly by her abusive father, with and without Prop 4. Without Prop 4, she gets a secret abortion and returns home to the same abusive situation, living in constant fear that her father will find out anyway. With Prop 4, she can still have the abortion if she chooses, but she is finally put in contact with adults outside her immediate family who will help her out of this dangerous situation.

And suppose Susie wasn’t impregnated by “young Jason,” but, because of the abusive situation at home, had turned to an older man, ready and willing to provide her the “affection” she was lacking at home. Without Prop 4, she gets a secret abortion and returns not only to her abusive home, but to an exploitive relationship, putting her at risk of further pregnancies and abortions, not to mention the variety of sexually transmitted diseases which randy older men are more likely to carry and spread. With Prop 4, there is both someone in her family and someone trained to deal with sexual exploitation of minors to help her break free.

But suppose, as Mr. Elias says, the older man was her stepfather. Wait: we don’t have to hypothesize. We know exactly how it works without Prop 4 in place. A recent California Supreme Court decision related how a 39-year-old man impregnated his 13-year-old stepdaughter. He took her to Planned Parenthood twice and then to San Francisco General for a late-term abortion. No medical provider reported the abuse, and the man continued to molest this young girl for seven more months after the abortion until her mother found out and turned him in. This is the status quo Mr. Elias wants to preserve?

Over 30 states, both red and blue, have parental involvement laws in place that are protecting young girls. California voters should provide the same protection to vulnerable girls in our own state by voting Yes on 4.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Desperate Journalists Take Desperate Measures

Faced with polls showing Proposition 4 with an 8-point lead, opponents of parental notification are resorting to outright fabrication in order to defeat this commonsense initiative.

Tom Elias, whose syndicated columns appears in 70 California papers, published a column this week containing outrageous claims that there are “studies of case histories” of girls in states with notification laws being maimed and dying by resorting to “coat hanger” and “back-alley” abortions. He makes the unqualified assertion that “where girls are legally required to notify parents, the percentage of back-alley abortions goes up.”

All of these statements are utter fiction. There are no studies, no case histories, no other evidence to support Mr. Elias’s claims. Parental involvement laws are in effect in 34 states, going back up to 25 years. Opponents of Proposition 4 are unable to point to a single case of a minor being harmed by a notification law, much less any “studies” or other data showing an increase in back-alley abortions.

The coalition of supporters of Prop 4, including doctors, nurses, teachers, parents, and law enforcement, call on Mr. Elias to withdraw his flagrantly false claims and acknowledge that there is no evidence of minors being harmed by notification laws.

“Voter should be on alert for last-minute smears like this from the opposition,” says Margi Pearson of the Yes on 4 campaign. “Proposition 4 does not threaten minors. Rather, it will help vulnerable girls by assuring them the counsel and protection of family members who care about them.”

Voters who care about the health and safety of minor girls will vote Yes on 4.