Last Thursday, July 6—the day before initiative signatures were due to the secretary of state—Oregon's "Committee to Protect Our Teen Daughters" submitted 115,845 signatures for a measure that would require doctors to notify parents 48 hours before their 15- to 17-year-old daughter can have an abortion.
The measure will almost certainly make it onto the November ballot: They only need 75,630 valid signatures.
Meanwhile, opponents of the bill—a coalition of pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood of the Columbia/ Willamette and NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, plus doctors, civil-rights groups, and the Democratic Party of Oregon—aren't waiting around to launch a counterattack. Carol Butler, formerly Senator Ron Wyden's campaign manager, will spearhead the campaign against the notification measure. To battle against the measure, the pro-choice coalition is hosting a fundraiser on July 18, on top of the Pearl District's Ecotrust Building.
For the next few months, expect to hear plenty of debate on the topic: Proponents, like Oregon Right to Life and the Oregon Family Council, claim the measure simply allows parents to be involved in their child's life.
"Parents are responsible for their kids up to a certain age," says measure campaign manager Sarah Nashif. "It seems odd that abortion is the only exception to the rule in which parents are not allowed to be involved in their teenagers' lives."
Opponents say the measure would put some teens at risk—either by unnecessarily delaying an abortion or requiring notice to an abusive parent.
"We would love for parents to be involved. But you cannot mandate that kind of family communication in a ballot measure," says Nancy Bennett, vice president of public affairs for the local Planned Parenthood chapter, and spokesperson for the coalition against the measure.
Moreover, opponents believe this is just the first ballot measure that anti-choice groups like Oregon Right to Life is planning to push in the coming years.
"They're looking for any kind of restriction they can pass," says Bennett. "Politically, this is the most palatable of all of their issues. They would like to completely outlaw abortion and I think they see this as one step." (Nashif disputes this: "I think it's selfish for anyone to say this is a slippery slope conversation. I think that they're playing politics with teenage girls.")
In 1990, Oregon voters defeated a similar measure by a slim 52-48 margin.