Pro-Lifers Celebrate Recent Victories in Illinois

An Illinois county judge has dismissed a challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union against the constitutionality of the state's yet-enforced parental notification law but kept the legislation on hold pending appeal.

"This written decision represents the first time an Illinois court has upheld the Parental Notice Act of 1995 against the ACLU's challenge," commented Peter Breen, executive director and legal counsel at the Thomas More Society.

"Today's ruling represents a great step toward ending underage secret abortions in Illinois," Breen added Monday after appearing as a "friend of the court" during the ruling's delivery. "We look forward to the day that abortion providers are made to respect the rights of parents to know before their daughters are taken for abortions."

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 new 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 delivered the ruling Monday.

Still, while Riley called the act an "unfortunate piece of legislation," he nonetheless said he found it to be constitutional and therefore lifted the temporary restraining order on it.

But the judge also said he would grant a stay, or grace period, on its enforcement pending the ACLU's next move.

Despite the continued delay, pro-lifers hailed Riley's ruling as another recent victory for their movement.

Last week, new legislation passed in the Illinois House of Representatives without HB6205, the "Reproductive Health and Access Act" (RHAA) bill that pro-lifers say would have made abortion a "fundamental right" in Illinois and required taxpayer funding of Medicaid abortions.

"The fact that we are able to celebrate two recent victories in Illinois, even in the face of the national health care bill that passed last week, shows that the pro-life movement is gaining ground in Illinois," said Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League.

"We hope to use this renewed vigor to fight for the lives of the unborn and their mothers across the country and put an end to abortion in America."

As pro-lifers celebrate, the ACLU will be considering their next move but are expected to appeal Monday's decision to the Illinois Appellate Court.

The ACLU has 60 days to file an appeal.