Abortion giant Planned Parenthood is opposing a proposed child marriage ban in California, Newsweek reported.
“Dozens of survivors of forced or child marriages traveled to California’s state Capitol in Sacramento last month to protest the state’s existing laws. Dressed in wedding dresses with their wrists tied and mouths taped shut, they called on state lawmakers to finally outlaw the practice,” the report states. “California, a solidly Democratic state, was on track to be the first to pass an absolute ban on marriages for children under 18. But the legislative proposal was met with opposition from liberal organizations like Planned Parenthood, the Children’s Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union.”
Planned Parenthood is pushing back on the proposed ban because the organization is worried imposing an age requirement could eventually lead to laws limiting abortions for minors. The organization did not respond to Newsweek‘s request for comment.
“Among their concerns is that a total ban on marriage of minors could be a slippery slope and impede constitutional rights or reproductive choices, including access to abortion,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
California and Mississippi are the only two states in the nation where there is no minimum age requirement for marriage. Most states have a minimum marriage age of 16 with parental consent, with some variance around the country, according to the report.
In California, parent or guardian approval and a court order is required for a minor to get married. However, child marriage ban proponents point out that California statutory rape law does not consider sexual activity between a child and an adult illegal if they are married.
Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California spokesperson Jennifer Wonnacott told the Times that it “strongly supports protecting youth from abuse of all kinds” but said those protections should “not impede on the reproductive rights of minors and their ability to decide what is best for them, their health and their lives.”
Fraidy Reiss, the founder of Unchained At Last, a nonprofit dedicated to ending forced and child marriages in the U.S., told Newsweek that a child marriage ban would not impact abortion access, and contended that allowing child marriage is more damaging to a minor’s sexual health.
“The idea that banning child marriage—a human rights abuse that destroys girls’ lives— might somehow undermine girls’ rights is preposterous,” Reiss said. “We at Unchained see again and again that child marriage survivors often lose all sexual and reproductive rights, repeatedly forced to have unprotected sex and forced to endure pregnancy, childbirth and childrearing without their consent.”
Unchained At Last found that between 2000 and 2018, 23,588 minors were married in California, making it the second-highest state for child marriages behind Texas.