Prop 4 and 8 predictions

The other social proposition on the California ballot, Proposition 4, which requires parental notification for a minor's abortion, is leading by just 46-44 in the latest Field poll.  That's a tightening from 49-41 a month ago.

I think Prop 4 will be defeated, but by a closer margin than in 2005 (5.6%) and 2006 (about 7%).  I also think 8 will fail but by only one or two percent (maybe even closer).

In California, there will be a lot of ballots that won't be counted on Election Night and the following morning.  These are late absentee and provisional ballots.  Results don't have to be
certified until December 2, four weeks after the election.

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Some Families Are Messed Up

... in case you weren't aware.

Some generations back in my family, a young boy got his leg cut off in an accident on a set of train tracks. The settlement was in excess of $100,000, a fortune at the time and nothing to sneeze at even today. His father, a minister who was so stingy that he wouldn't even let his wife have a copy of the key to the family refrigerator, gifted the entire settlement to a Bible college and insisted that he continue wearing the short pants that fashion norms of the day prescribed for boys Paul's age.

Paul got teased about his exposed prosthetic mercilessly at school and got into a lot of fights. Not even this bullying made his father relent. Paul later became a prize fighter, but his career never took off. Family legend has it that he was so cussed and nasty that he knocked his opponents out too quickly, which didn't give the audience a good show for their money. He became an abusive drunk and liked to win bets off of unsuspecting people in bars by crushing full aluminum beer cans with one hand. I guess his life made him 'strong,' a trait he used to tyrannize his own eventual family.

I could go on, too. That's the good thing about families with several generations of dysfunction, they give you a lot to write about. I'm not talking a lovable sort of sitcom dysfunction, either, where everyone's just mildly, humorously neurotic. No.

The point of that story, and I have more where that came from, is to say that some people's families are so unbelievably frakked up that if you didn't come from one of them, you might not believe that people like that existed. But they do.

Families are supposed to be, are idealized as, everyone's bulwark of love and support against an uncaring world. Though for some, the uncaring world is a relief compared to dealing with the controlling, malicious, life-wrecking, or vindictive jerks that an accident of birth allotted to you as family. Sometimes those people are just messed up. Or maybe basically decent, but you all just bring out the absolute worst in each other. Or even kind, but weak, and unable to protect you from predators or from their own bad habits.

Not everyone has a family who loves them unconditionally and will always be there if they need help. Got it? If you have to be told, I'm happy for you, really, but this isn't a revelation to all of us. You know those people you read about in the news and think, 'Damn, what an unbelievable creep,' those people are part of someone's family and are probably traumatizing that family even as you read about them being unbelievable creeps.

That's why parental notification laws for abortion, like California's Proposition 4, are so pernicious.

Because there are families where fathers rape their own daughters. Because there are families where a pregnant girl might get thrown out on the street, or beaten to within an inch of her life. Because there are families where both parents are hooked on drugs or alcohol and need their children to parent them from an early age. Because there are families where several generations of abusive relationships have left people who would otherwise have been decent relatives without any positive models of conflict resolution. Because there are teenagers who would literally rather risk death than tell anyone that they might be pregnant until it's too late, a situation made even worse if their parents are also troubled and would react badly to such an announcement.

Any policy that relies on all families being perfect in order to be humane simply fails to be humane. It just fails.

Is it enough to be against a law because it will cause more suffering? I think it is. It isn't less cruel because you don't have to face the people who will be hurt by it. We're not talking about hypothetical platitudes where people exist in states of perfect information and minimal consequence, we're talking about real lives. Is it enough to simply ask that people vote against Proposition 4 because they're anti-misery?

Update [2008-10-9 17:31:49 by Natasha Chart]: Tag edit.

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Calif Prop 4 -- Another anti-choice ballot initiative ... and what you can do

Cross-posted at DailyKos

Proposition 4 on California's general election ballot is an initiative measure to amend the California State Constitution to impede a minor's ability to obtain an abortion, even in the case of rape or incest.  If you think this is familiar, you are right.  Twice in the past three years, Californians have narrowly defeated two similar measures -- Propositions 73 in November, 2005 and 85 in November, 2006.  But this time, the measure is in danger of passing.  A poll (caution: .pdf file) conducted by the well-respected Field Research Corporation has it at Yes 49, No 41, with 10 percent undecided as of September 26th.  All of this in a state that is 71% pro-choice.  

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Senator Obama: "Present" on Choice

Here's a simple yes or no question for a politician:

"Do you believe minors should be required to get parental consent -- or at least notify their parents -- before having an abortion."

As a staunchly pro-choice Democrat, the answer to this question is very important to me. I want the answer to be an unequivocal "no," possibly followed by the rationale that brought the politician to that conclusion, but that is not required.

Senator Barack Obama (or a staffer, as he tells it) got the answer right the first time in 1996 in a political survey filled out for the Independent Voters of Illinois -- Independent Precinct Organization, an Illinois voter group from whom he sought an endorsement.

Sadly, he had a quick change of heart (apparently the staffer got some things incorrect) and submitted an amended version (previous link) the very next day. His "no", now had a qualification:

"Depends on how young -- possibly for extremely young teens, i.e., 12- or 13-year-olds."

Okay, so now it's a "no" except under specific circumstances. While it's not the exact answer I'm looking for, I can deal with this - there seems to be some sense in having 12-13 year olds notify their parents.

Personally, I disagree. I believe females this young who become pregnant, are most likely the victims of incest or  rape, or lack the parental involvement to justify the legislation. Further, if a 12-13 year old girl feels she needs an abortion I don't believe anybody, even a parent, has the right to force a girl or woman to maintain a pregnancy. In addition, girls this young are the most likely to have severe complications during pregnancy, which further worries me. Lastly, I'm sure we've all heard of the stories coming out of Costa Rica, Columbia, Bolivia  of young girls molested, impregnated and denied abortions. I just believe that a right to choose is a right to choose, no matter how old you are. But again, while I disagree, I find this answer palatable.

Sadly, Senator Obama also does not claim this answer any longer.

Politico reports the Obama campaign's stance on the answers given in the aforementioned questionnaires:

"Sen. Obama didn't fill out these state Senate questionnaires -- a staffer did -- and there are several answers that didn't reflect his views then or now," Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for Obama's campaign, said in an e-mailed statement. "He may have jotted some notes on the front page of the questionnaire at the meeting, but that doesn't change the fact that some answers didn't reflect his views. His 11 years in public office do."

Okay, so what is the Senator's view on parental notification?

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