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Eugene Weekly : Viewpoint : 10.26.06

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No on Measure 43

It puts vulnerable teens in a bureaucratic maze

BY KELLIE DEVORE

Measure 43 may sound reasonable at first, but it isn't as simple as it seems. We all want to encourage parental involvement and strong, healthy family communication. And at Planned Parenthood, we have learned that the best way to promote good family communication and strong values is to start early. But teaching about responsibility and values has to happen before a young woman gets pregnant, not by government-mandated parental notification in a flawed measure like 43.

It is well documented that the vast majority of teens who get pregnant inform their parents. But the small minority who do not are also the teens who are most likely to be the victims of rape or incest. Yet Measure 43 contains no exception for teens who are victims of rape and incest or are living in abusive situations. Let me say that again. Measure 43 states, "exceptions to notice requirement documented medical emergencies, which do not include rape or incest." Frightening.

Under Measure 43, the only alternative for an abused teen is to rely on the judicial bypass provision, which throws her into a bureaucratic maze. The judicial bypass forces a vulnerable teen to plead her case to an administrative law judge at the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) — a state agency that is already stretched too thin.

These administrative law judges would receive no special training in sensitive family matters. In fact, the administrative law judge is not even required to see the young woman in person, and there is no guarantee to a hearing. The judges are based in large cities, so teens from smaller towns or rural areas would be underserved. The judicial bypass process is too complicated and unworkable to meet the needs of Oregon's most vulnerable teens.

In the real world, even the thought of navigating the court system would be a daunting prospect for a pregnant young woman and could result in delays that could pose a threat to her health. We should not force vulnerable teens into considering such extreme measures as back-room abortions or trying to go to states that do not have parental notification laws.

We know from other states what happens with forced parental notification. For one, teens go out of state. Teens in Pennsylvania go to New Jersey and New York. Massachusetts teens go to Vermont, and so on.

Even more important and more concerning is that teens delay seeking medical attention and delay making medical decisions. This results in later abortions or unwanted childbearing. That's why on the national level the American Medical Association, Society for Adolescent Medicine, American Public Health Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Academy of Pediatrics and other health professional organizations have opposed parental notification requirements.

Here in Oregon, a broad coalition of parents, teachers, and health care providers including the Oregon Medical Association, the Oregon Education Association, the Oregon Nurses Association, the Oregon League of Women Voters and others are actively opposing Measure 43. Please join us in opposing Measure 43. Keep our most vulnerable teens safe.

 

Kellie DeVore is the vice president for public affairs at Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon (PPSO), part of the coalition opposing Measure 43. For more information, go to www.noon43.com

 





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