18 Years Later, Ill. Abortion Parental Notification Law Will Go Into Effect

After 18 years of court challenges, the Illinois Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision from both Republican and Democratic appointees, decided Thursday that the state's 1995 abortion parental notification law will go into effect. Planned Parenthood of Illinois, meanwhile, promised to make abortion "as easy as possible" for minors.

"It's a good day for Illinois parents," Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel for Thomas More Society, told The Christian Post Thursday. "A lot of Illinois parents are breathing a sigh of relief today that they will be told before their children are taken for abortions."

The law, the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995, was already upheld by a federal appeals court. The American Civil Liberties Union brought another appeal to the Illinois state courts, arguing that the Illinois state constitution provided stronger abortion rights than the U.S. Constitution. The Illinois Supreme Court rejected that argument, Breen explained.

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"We find that, while a minor clearly has an expectation of privacy in her medical information, which includes the fact of her pregnancy, the intrusion on the minor's privacy occasioned by the Act is not unreasonable," Justice Anne Burke wrote for the majority.

When the law becomes active in a little over a month, doctors will be required to notify the parents of girls 17 and under when their daughter seeks to have an abortion. The notification can be waived by a judge.

Illinois is one of the few states in the country that did not have an abortion parental notification, or parental consent, law. There has been a "great influx," Breen said, of minors from nearby states who wanted to obtain an abortion without notifying, or obtaining the permission of, their parents. A law was proposed in the U.S. Congress that would have made it a crime to transport a minor across state lines for the purpose of avoiding a parental notification law, but it failed to pass.

Planned Parenthood of Illinois President and CEO Carol Brite expressed disappointment in the decision, arguing that parental involvement would put the "health and safety of teens at unnecessary risk," according to the Chicago Sun-Times. When the law goes into effect though, Brite promised that Planned Parenthood is committed to making sure that obtaining an abortion is "as easy as possible for teens."

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan defended the law in the case, even though she is a pro-choice Democrat.

Thomas More Society was involved by recruiting two state attorneys in Illinois to intervene in the case and make sure the law was vigorously defended. Breen explained that they were concerned due to the recent trend of executives choosing not to defend laws they disagree with.

While Thomas More Society did not agree with all of Madigan's approach to defending the law, it was, nonetheless a "sound defense," Breen said, and was successful.

Breen believes the ACLU has exhausted all of its opportunities to prevent the law from going into effect. Plus, since the Illinois Supreme Court's decision was unanimous and bipartisan, more challenges to the law would be unlikely.

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