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Abortion in California
Getting an abortion in California can be a scary thing for a young woman. Her immediate family often doesn't support her and she must face making a difficult decision by herself and with limited resources. While religious right to life groups fervently pressure her to have the baby and give it up for adoption if she is unable or unwilling to care for it herself, other groups that might have their own financial incentives pressure her saying that she is better off to get rid of it. These forces are in opposition to each other, each trying to manipulate the young pregnant woman into following their advice.
The financial resources of a young woman are often meager, she being in the formative years of wage earning with many ladders of experience and education to climb before she will be very well self-sufficient. Sometimes insurance is available to pay for an abortion, and many insurance plans do, but when it is not available, and when family is not there to help, she must count on charity in the way of social programs that are either privately or government funded. These programs are a valuable resource for counseling before a decision is made, or for help with medical fees, should they be incurred either for pre-natal care or for an abortion. The state of California has programs include Medi-Cal insurance and Presumptive Eligibility (PE). No guarantee is made that either of these programs will assist, but the prospective mother should talk to representatives to find out exactly what can be covered.
It is not uncommon for a person with any health issue to be concerned that medical records will be made available to family members or to the public. However, federal laws under the HIPA act mandate that medical records must be maintained confidentially. Medical facilities have screening procedures in place to insure that medical records can be furnished only to persons whom the patient has delegated in writing as authorized. In California, medical records of teens who undergo abortion are considered confidential and even parents do not have the right to access those records. Don't ask, don't tell is a kind of motto these days and if a young girl doesn't tell her parents, and doesn't give them access to her medical file, the medical community that provides any services to her is not allowed to tell them.
Abortion is a federally upheld right for all women in the United States, based on the 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade. While highly contested, mostly by conservative politicians who wish to adhere to core family values, it continues to be a common medical procedure. One in three US women will have an abortion by age 45. The Californian public has been a pro-choice leviathan since the beginning of women’s rights debates, both privately and politically. In addition to the federal protections of Roe v. Wade, the state enacted a Freedom of Choice Act which would preserve reproductive rights even if the Supreme Court decision were overturned. The beliefs and practices of Californians on social issues such as abortion are unlikely to alter with upcoming elections.
The abortion rate in California is slightly higher than the remainder of the nation, although the patients’ state of residency is not considered when calculating state abortion rates. This slightly higher rate in the state may be contributed to the lack of limitations placed on the procedure. California does not maintain any of the abortion restrictions that are prevalent in other states: waiting periods, required parental involvement, or limitations on public funding for abortions. Abortion in California is not without its constraints. Most notably, healthcare workers are empowered with a refusal clause which allows them to refuse to participate in any abortive procedure which they deem morally, ethically, or consciously unsound. Additionally, there is a parental consent law which requires the written consent of one parent for all non-emancipated minors under 18 years of age; however, this law was deemed unconstitutional in 1997, and it is illegal to enforce it.
While Californian abortion rates were drastically higher than the rest of the United States in the early 1990’s, the difference has curtailed in recent years. Paradoxically, this is in inverse proportion to the number of abortion providers in the state, which went up to 424 in 2005 from 400 in 2000. Despite the high number of licensed or certified health care professionals, 41% of Californian counties continue without such services.
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