In California’s wild world of ballot initiatives, the chickens defeated the egg factory owners, and an anti-abortion parental notification proposition was defeated.

Prop. 8, the ban on gay marriage, is winning 52-48 with 95 per cent reporting: see our separate coverage today by Richard Kim.

California’s anti-abortion/parental notification initiative is losing, 52-48, with 95 percent of precincts reporting. The campaign was deeply dishonest – proponents called their proposition "Sarah’s Law," supposedly in honor of a 15-year-old girl who died from an abortion gone wrong 14 years ago, an abortion where the parents were not notified. As the LA Times pointed out in an editorial, "Much of that is false. The girl’s name wasn’t Sarah; she lived in Texas, not California; and though she was 15, she already had a child and was in a common-law marriage, which means she wouldn’t have been covered by the law Californians are being asked to consider."

The ad campaign for the proposition described "older men" who "exploit young girls and use secret abortions to cover up their crimes." But as the Times pointed out, "The most recent known case of serious injury that might have been prevented by Proposition 4 occurred in the 1980s." It was basically an anti-abortion initiative, with more than half of its funding coming from a single source, according to San Diego CityBeat: James Holman, editor and publisher of the San Diego Reader, who contributed about $1.5 million of the $2.7 million spent by the proponents.

Prop. 2, sponsored by the Humane Society, combated inhumane treatment of animals being bred for food – primarily chickens, who under the proposition would have to be able to stand up, lie down, turn around and extend their limbs in their cages. Similar provisions govern the treatment of pigs and cows. Egg farmers would have six full years before the new rules took full effect.

You might think everyone in California would support it, except for egg factory owners – but the L.A. Times officially recommended a "No" vote, on the grounds that it would increase the cost of California eggs and encourage the importation of cheaper out-of-state eggs. The voters didn’t go for that argument – the proposition passed, 63-37 per cent.

Reform of the treatment of low-level drug users was the subject of a proposition asking voters to reverse the trend toward more draconian criminal law. Prop. 5, the Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act, funded in part by George Soros, would have been "the most ambitious sentencing and prison reform in U.S. history," according to the Drug Policy Alliance Network. The measure would have substituted treatment for incarceration of those who committed nonviolent crimes involving drugs. It also would have ended the practice of returning to prison many ex-convicts with low-level parole violations.

The initiative was opposed by Governor Schwarzenegger and four predecessors from both parties: former governors Gray Davis, Pete Wilson, George Deukmejian and Jerry Brown. The prison guards union spent $1.8 million to defeat the proposition. And it was defeated, 60-40.