Our totalitarian Christianists are pushing not one but two constitutional amendments in the coming election: Proposition 8, which would outlaw marriage for Gays and Lesbians, and Proposition 4, which would mandate parental notification and impose a de-facto parental veto of young women's abortion plans. And because GLs vote, and 17-year-old women don't, the fund-raisers of the left have already handed a victory on the latter to the National-Christianist mob.
You would think that my University colleagues would have something to say about that. Most students at the university where I teach are the first generation of their families to attend college. Many of their parents are immigrants, often from collectivist cultures that have no notion of individual rights - nor sympathy with the American idea that a young woman has an individual right to chart the course of her own life. We know from statistics that some of our students were pregnant in their teens. If Proposition 4 had been law, some of the most talented would not be studying at a university. They would be working in a menial job, supporting an infant or child carried to term against their will.
But my University colleagues have been silent. Even to have a motive for speaking out would imply an endorsement of the principle of individual rights, and of the superiority of the American culture of individual rights against the collectivist cultures of the rest of the world and of the growing Christianist movement at home. It would contradict the dogma of multiculturalism, and this is what the Christianists appeal to and exploit.
No one, inside or outside a university, dares to identify the issue that separates a parental veto of abortion, from a requirement for parental consent to treatment at a tanning salon. I did try to do so in op-eds I sent to several newspapers, but none has been printed so far (Subsequent note: now one has been. See the bottom of this posting.) As I wrote in the submitted op-eds, Proposition 4 is the latest in a decades-long series of attempts to obliterate what the American novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand called "the right of young people to set the course of their own lives." What a young woman does about an unintended pregnancy may affect the course of her life for the next 19 years. Most of those years will come after she becomes an independent adult. Those years - indispensable years in which to complete her education and start a productive life - are rightly hers to decide about. This puts her decision on abortion into a different category from short-term decisions whose consequences - like the risk of needing the care of a dermatologist after a visit to a tanning salon - are limited to the immediate future, when her parents will still be paying the bills. Her decision on abortion is rightly hers alone: she is the one, who will bear the burden of care for a child if she is forced to continue her pregnancy and to give birth against her will.
It is obvious why the more Christianist editors would reject my op-eds. But why would the supposedly secular ones? I suspect that it is because the principle here, is the principle of responsibility - and it is the Pragmatist left that has been fighting to sever the link between decisions and consequences. The Christianists know this, and they smell the blood from the secular Pragmatists' self-inflicted lobotomy.
Proposition 4 was written to deceive the voters into believing that it is "filled with caveats and exceptions." The young woman could seek a waiver from a court - but only by presenting "clear and convincing evidence" for her case. This is not the "preponderance of evidence" standard normally used in civil courts. "Clear and convincing" is a much more demanding standard, so demanding that it is used in civil courts to justify the imposition of punitive damages. No lawyer has ever met the standard of "clear and convincing evidence" without weeks, months or years of preparation. No lawyer that I know can even imagine this standard as something that a teenage girl might meet in a brief hearing held on a single day's notice.
Proposition 4 pretends to exempt from its requirements those young women whose pregnancy carries serious medical risks. But this exemption is limited to a risk of immediate death, or of "a substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function." A non-immediate risk, even as severe as a family history of post-partum depression and suicide, would not qualify.
Proposition 4 also seems to create a narrow exception for young women who claim to have been severely abused by their parents. When such allegations are made, the notice may be delivered, with a written allegation of abuse, to a "grandparent, stepparent, foster parent, aunt, uncle, sibling, half-sibling, or first cousin." Most young women don't have foster parents or step-parents, and everyone else on this list is a blood relative of the young woman's parents, and is not likely to take the young woman's side against them. In some cultures the young woman's pregnancy is enough to discredit her. Few young women have adult relatives whom they can trust to keep the pregnancy secret from the rest of the family, even if that pregnancy resulted from abuse.
If read carelessly enough, Proposition 4 seems to bar parental coercion of the young woman "through force (such as forcible confinement,) threat of force, or threatened or actual deprivation of food or shelter." But this bar applies only to coercion intended to force the young woman to undergo an abortion. Proposition 4 conspicuously does not bar parents from using forcible confinement, or other "force, threat of force, or threatened or actual deprivation of food or shelter" to force their daughter to continue her pregnancy, eventually forcing her to give birth against her will. This asymmetry effectively endorses parental force - against that pregnant young woman who wishes to set her life on a course that does not include giving birth in her teens. As I wrote in the rejected op-eds: those who hear Proposition 4 defended as a measure for parental involvement, should understand, before they vote, exactly what kind of parental involvement is being endorsed.
Existing California law protects the young woman's individual right to set the course of her life by the judgment of her own mind. If Proposition 4 were to pass, that individual right will become California history. This is what happens when militant religion is given all the room in the world, by the secular side's self-inflicted philosophical lobotomy implicit in Pragmatism.
This November I will hold my nose and vote for the Democratic ticket, because I agree with Leonard Peikoff's analysis: a vote for the Republicans will bring even more Christo-Fascist oppression than we already live under today, and with Palin on the ticket, a realistic threat of National Christianist theocracy in the United States within the next 4 years. A Democratic victory will buy time for a counter-revolution. Perhaps as long as two decades' time. This is a fight in which we have no allies but zombies, and no weapon except our naked minds.
(P.S. The _Daily Breeze_, the local newspaper of the Coastal Southern Los Angeles County and nearby communities, covering a population of about 1.5 million people, just published the op-ed I sent them. Yippee!)
(P.P.S. Other versions of my OpEd were printed in the Press-Telegram (Long Beach and surrounding communities, population a half-million or so, and the Orange County Register, one of the world's largest newspapers, covering a county of 3 million people. And there are more left to try - I haven't covered all of California yet!)