California Parental Notification Law on Abortion Helps Teens | Steven Ertelt | Oct. 20, 2008

A California police officer, who is a veteran of investigating sexual abuse cases, says the parental notification measure California voters will consider next month is sorely needed. California is one of a handful of states that don’t let parents know of their daughter’s potential abortion.

The case involved a San Bernardino County couple who didn’t find out until four years later that their 12-year-old daughter had been a victim of sexual abuse and that the assailant forced her to have an abortion to cover up his crime.

The couple reported the attack to police and, without their involvement, the abuser never would have been held accountable.

Sgt. Tom Yarrington, the police officer who investigated the case, says if California had a law requiring abortion providers to inform families when underage girls seek their services, the girl in this case would have been spared further abuse.

“The biggest difference is that the abuse would have ceased immediately,” Yarrington said. “Second of all, she would have been receiving counseling immediately, which is going to help her through the healing process and allow her to move on with her life.”

Yarrington has spent 17 years working as a police officer in San Bernardino County, and has investigated more than 1000 sex crime cases, most involving minors.

The veteran investigator said family notification for minors seeking abortions would help both law enforcement and victims.

“It gives us better investigative leads, allows us to locate more victims and allows us to provide earlier intervention-not only to provide the help that the child needs to make it through this time, but it is also going to assist us in stopping further abuse from occurring to that victim and, potentially, other victims,” he said.

“If we can’t help right away because the information isn’t disclosed and she has to carry that burden on her own, that’s a very difficult, heavy burden for someone to carry,” said Yarrington. “A 12-year-old is not mentally prepared to deal with not only the medical complications that can occur, but the mental anguish.”

In Santa Clara County, a similar case came to light in August in a California Supreme Court ruling. There, a sexual 39-year-old predator impregnated a 13-year-old girl, forced her to undergo a late-term abortion, then continued to molest her for another seven months until the child’s mother discovered the abuse and contacted police.

The use of secret abortions by sexual predators to hide their crimes explains why law-enforcement officials across California support Proposition 4.

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