Legal Group Seeks Transfer of Parental Notification Case to Ill. High Court

Attorneys with a Christian legal group have asked the justices of the Illinois Supreme Court to immediately transfer the legal case against the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995 from the Appellate Court to the Supreme Court.

Invoking a Supreme Court rule, the Thomas More Society insisted in the motion filed Thursday that the "public interest requires prompt adjudication" as pregnant minors at risk for abortion suffer harm every day that the Act is not enforced.

According to the legal group, more than 50,000 abortions have been performed on pregnant minors in Illinois since the Parental Notice Act was signed into law in 1995, 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.

"More than fifteen years ago, with overwhelming bipartisan support, parental notice was supposedly made the law in Illinois, but as we sit here today, secret abortions on pregnant minors continue unabated," said Peter Breen, Thomas More Society's executive director and legal counsel.

"With this motion to transfer, the Supreme Court has the opportunity to immediately and definitively decide the constitutionality of parental notice in Illinois."

Since Illinois' Parental Notice of Abortion Act was first signed into law in 1995, pro-lifers have fought to see the law enforced. 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."

Furthermore, they 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.

Opponents of the bill, however, allege that the law violates a young woman's right to privacy and is therefore unconstitutional.

They also argue that the law will do more harm than good – a sentiment shared by Cook County Judge Daniel Riley, who this past March delivered a ruling on the case.

Though Riley called the act an "unfortunate piece of legislation," he dismissed the challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union against the constitutionality of the yet-enforced law after finding the law to be constitutional.

However, while he lifted the temporary restraining order on it, the judge also said he would grant a stay, or grace period, on its enforcement pending the ACLU's next move.

After the judge's ruling, both the ACLU and the Illinois Attorney General's office agreed to an indefinite stay of the law, extending through the duration of the appeal a temporary restraining order entered earlier by Riley.

It is not yet known whether the Attorney General and the ACLU will support, oppose or remain neutral on the Thomas More Society's motion to transfer the case to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Illinois is presently the only state in the Midwest that does not have a law requiring parental notification or consent prior to an abortion.