Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Teens Having Sex: No on Proposition 73
The Golden Gate Chapter of Planned Parenthood consists of eight clinics in the Bay Area, including this one on Eddy Street between Van Ness and Franklin in San Francisco.
Since 1929, the organization has been advocating family planning, which very roughly translates into "how do you have sexual relations without getting pregnant?"
This has not made them popular with many organized religious groups or right-wing political groups over the years, particularly since 53% of Planned Parenthood's budget for family planning (at least, the Golden Gate Chapter) comes from government funds. Check out their four-page annual report, which is on their website here, because the info is fascinating.
The latest assault on reproductive rights has arrived in the form of Proposition 73, which is part of Governor Schwarzenegger's loathsome group of state propositions in his "special election" scheduled for November 8th of this year.
Proposition 73 proposes an amendment to the California state constitution that would require the notification of all parents of minors (under 18 years of age) contemplating an abortion. The only exception would be those minors who were savvy enough to go before a sympathetic judge and get a special dispensation, which of course is absurd. Click here for more information about the opposition.
The three major guys (and yes, they are all men) bankrolling Yes on Proposition 73 are conservative Catholics: James Holman, a whacked out publisher from Coronado Island; Don Sebastiani of the Sebastiani wine family; and Tom Monaghan, the Midwestern millionaire who used to own the Domino Pizza chain.
As Miss Julie, the head of Training at Planned Parenthood, puts it: "You've either got a relationship with your teenager, or you don't. You can't legislate one." The statistics about notification in California are interesting: 60%+ of minors who get abortions do so with the support and counseling of their parents and that number goes up to 90% when you're talking about 14- and 15-year-olds.
The percentage that interests me is how many of those 30%+ who currently don't involve their parents are the children of conservative religious patriarchs/matriarchs who would literally beat the holy hell out of them if they confessed to having sex, let alone being pregnant.
Some years ago I went to Siggraph, a computer graphics convention in August in Orlando, Florida where it was as hot and muggy as you'd expect. I ended up spending the entire week at the huge, beautiful hotel swimming pool, day and night, and saw an interesting phenomenon.
The computer graphics people occupied about one-quarter of the hotel but the remainder of the guests during the week were attendees at a "Schlotzky Deli" convention along with their families. Over the weekend, they were replaced by a "Spirituality Conference" which was a three-day event for Christian families with workshops on moving to Christian ghettos on the island of Antigua and other odd subjects.
The Schlotzky Deli convention families were a varied lot of all colors and religious persuasions from the entire United States and they were a pleasure to hang with at the swimming pool. The "Spirituality" Christian families were all "white" and from the Southeast, mostly from Florida, and were not a pleasure at the swimming pool, mostly because the children were weirdly out of control, screaming their lungs out, getting into bloody scrapes, and being seriously guilt-tripped by tight-lipped parents. I also noticed that the rebellious teens in the Christian family groups all seemed to be wearing heavy metal and satanist T-shirts and doing everything they could to upset their parents, which was not the case with the Schlotzky Deli clans.
You can make your own conclusions, but what I came away with was that enforcing one's religious values forcibly on your children and the society around you makes for some seriously screwed up people.
Please vote no on Proposition 73, and tell everyone you know to do the same. Unfortunately, the polls currently have it tied evenly between the "yes" and "no" sides, mostly because the idea of "parent notification" is appealing. The reality, however, is not.