Two speakers debated in Parkway North Tuesday on the possible benefits and shortfalls of Oregon Ballot Measure 43, an initiative that would require parental notification for abortions.
The debate was the first of a series this week put on by the Student Vote Coalition over the upcoming measures for the November elections. With close to 40 people attending, the heated debate sparked emotional commentary throughout.
Sarah Nashif, campaign manager for Protect Our Teen Daughters, represented the position in favor of Measure 43 and Treasure Mackley spoke on behalf of the No On Measure 43 campaign.
The high point of the debate for Mackley came when fielding a question from the audience concerning a judicial bypass that can overrule the otherwise mandatory parental notification.
Mackley said that the administrative law judges who would handle the bypass requests do not have the qualifications, or even the time, to properly handle the sensitive abortion cases.
”Administrative law judges are only required to have a knowledge of the law,” Mackley said. “They aren’t really judges.”
Mackley said that other states with this type of measure allow judicial bypasses through family courts, where she said she thinks judges have relevant experience. She said the measure does not require an administrative law judge to go through any training on domestic violence, sexual health or reproductive health.
”They generally deal with things like licensing and permit disputes,” Mackley said.
Mackley said that health officials would be better suited to deal with issues that would prompt a bypass in the first place - mostly the fear of domestic violence or abuse. “Just imagine a young woman in an abusive home finds out she is pregnant. How likely is she to go through this judicial bypass?” Mackley said. “The proponents of this measure did not put in an exception for rape or incest.”
Mackley said that abortion patients coming from abusive homes would be more likely to report the abuse to health officials than the administrative law judges.
Countering Mackley’s criticism, Nashif said that using the administrative law judges at the Department of Human Services insures confidentiality.
”If we were to go through any other court it wouldn’t be confidential. It would be on the public record,” Nashif said. “These girls’ right to privacy is much more important than forcing them to have a public hearing.”
With Measure 43, Nashif said, the woman would at least have her parents to support and protect her.
“In Oregon, for 29 percent of the girls having abortions who are 17 or younger, the father of the baby is over the age of 20,” Nashif said. “The adult who is bringing the girl in for the abortion is the boyfriend covering up the consequences of his action.”
Nashif disagreed with Mackley’s view that Measure 43 is part of an overall attempt to break down abortion laws and protection.
”As a female in support of Measure 43, I’m automatically painted as this pro-life, right-wing, crazy fanatic,” Nashif said. “We’re trying to protect families from invasive forces coming in, from the government working their way in by saying parents don’t have the right to know. I look at it as medical providers saying I can parent your kid better than you can. I think you should be offended by that.”
Brushing off the notion that the issue has to do with a wider cultural divide over abortion, Nashif said that Measure 43 has more of a personal, rather than political, impact.
Nashif said that most women do not want to tell their parents about getting an abortion, not because they are afraid of abuse, but because they are ashamed and afraid they will disappoint their parents. Because of this, she said, they have to go through the traumatic experience alone.
Nashif said she has personal reasons for supporting Measure 43. “I have too many girls crying on my shoulder on a regular basis because they have been traumatized by a procedure that they don’t have to go through alone,” she said.