LOS ANGELES -- A ballot measure that would require doctors to notify parents before performing an abortion on a minor appeared headed for defeat Wednesday.
With 95 percent of precincts reporting, 52 percent of voters were opposed to Proposition 4, while 48 favored it. The statewide figures, however, were at odds with the results in San Diego, where 53 percent of voters supported notification and 47 percent opposed it.
Similar to laws in 35 states, the ballot initiative would also require a two-day waiting period before minors could get abortions.
Voters defeated similar measures in 2005 and 2006, but with a presidential election bringing out many more voters than usual, proponents hoped the election would bring enough of their supporters to finally pass the measure. Another ballot initiative to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage was expected to drive social conservatives to the polls.
Proponents of the measure conceded defeat and said it was a "grave injustice" to teenaged girls, vowing to continue to try to get the measure passed by voters.
"I think many Californians are going to be disappointed," said Paul Laubacher, a spokesman for the Yes on 4 campaign. "What was Obama's comment? 'Yes we can?' I think that's appropriate for our cause."
Kathy Kneer, president of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, which funded and organized opposition to the measure, said the vote sent a clear message that voters here did not believe the measure was designed for the safety of young women.
"The proponents tried to deceive the voters," Kneer said.
In California, young and older voters appeared split on Proposition 4, with preliminary exit polls showing voters under 30 heavily opposed to it, while voters 65 and over supported it. Age groups in between were more evenly split.
Proponents of the abortion-notification initiative hoped minor language tweaks in their latest attempt would make it more palatable to voters. The changes were intended to answer arguments that some unemancipated minors could be abused if they told their parents they were pregnant.
The latest version would allow minors to notify another adult relative, instead of a parent or guardian.
Opponents said Proposition 4 was a thinly disguised attempt to chip away at abortion rights.
They said pregnant girls who claim their parents would abuse them if told of the pregnancy would have to give a detailed statement about why they feared they would be abused. The health care provider would be required to notify authorities, triggering an investigation. Many teenagers, the opponents said, would not want to disclose abuse if they knew it would lead to such an investigation.
Proposition 4's principal sponsor was James Holman, publisher of the San Diego Reader, a weekly newspaper. He contributed more than $1.3 million of the reported $2.6 million raised for the measure. He also bankrolled the 2005 and 2006 measures.
The No on 4 campaign, largely funded by Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, raised $8.2 million.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger supported Proposition 4, while the California Teachers Association opposed it.
Ballot measures to limit or ban abortion were defeated in two other states. In South Dakota, voters rejected an initiative that would ban abortion except in cases of rape, incest and serious health threat to the mother. In Colorado, voters defeated a measure that would have rewritten the constitution to define human life as beginning at conception, which both sides in the campaign viewed as a direct challenge to abortion rights.