A divided Illinois Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a request to transfer the legal case pending against the state's yet-enforced Parental Notice of Abortion Act from the Appellate Court to the Supreme Court.
Attorneys with the Thomas More Society had asked the justices to immediately transfer the legal case, invoking a Supreme Court rule that says "public interest requires prompt adjudication."
According to the Christian legal group, the rule is applicable in this case as pregnant minors at risk for abortion suffer harm every day that the 1995 law is not enforced. In dissenting from the order denying the transfer, Justices Robert R. Thomas and Thomas L. Kilbride agreed.
The Thomas More Society claims that more than 50,000 abortions have been performed on pregnant minors in Illinois over the past 15 years, including almost 5,000 abortions on girls 14 years of age and younger. And more than 55,000 abortions have been performed on non-residents in Illinois since 1995, including an unknown number of out-of-state pregnant minors.
Though the Parental Notice Act was signed into law in 1995, it has yet been enforced as court challenges to the law's constitutionality have placed it on hold.
While supporters of the legislation say it will prevent girls from making a decision of great importance "without the counsel of adults who care about them," opponents of the bill allege that the law violates a young woman's right to privacy and is therefore unconstitutional. Opponents also argue that the law will do more harm than good, though supporters say the bill was carefully crafted to recognize the interests of underage girls seeking abortions and their parents.
"[This bill] is less punitive, more sensitive to all circumstances under which a minor could confront an abortion decision, and therefore more likely to accomplish the common goal of these two pieces of legislation," Gov. Jim Edgar said at the signing ceremony nearly 15 years ago.
In the most recent ruling on the case, Cook County Judge Daniel Riley called the act this past March an "unfortunate piece of legislation," but dismissed the challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union against the constitutionality of the law after finding it to be constitutional.
"The latest constitutional attack on this law by the American Civil Liberties Union was deemed legally meritless and tossed out of court by both a federal appeals court and a Cook County trial court," noted Thomas More Society president and chief counsel Tom Brejcha, "and yet the Attorney General agreed – inexplicably and without any legal basis – that the enforcement of parental notice should still be stayed, that is, suspended pending the outcome of the ACLU's appeal."
Following Wednesday's rejection from the Illinois Supreme Court, Brejcha said his team is "obviously disappointed" but vowed to "remain committed to doing everything we possibly can to bring these appeals to a speedy and positive conclusion."
With the transfer motion denied, the proceedings will continue in the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, where Thomas More Society attorneys are due to file their opening appeal brief on Friday.