Illinois parental notification abortion law continues to go unenforced as lawsuit moves forward

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Friday, June 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm

A 16-year-old Illinois abortion parental-notification law was sent back to the circuit court for trial on Friday.

The law, which states that a physician must notify the adult family member of a minor seeking an abortion at least 48 hours before the abortion can be performed, was enacted in 1995 but never enforced, according to the Associated Press.

In 2009, the Hope Clinic for Women, Ltd., in Granite City, Ill., sued members of the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation and the state Medical Disciplinary Board, claiming the law causes serious and irreversible harm to teens and violates the Illinois Constitution. The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinoisrepresented the cased, which was initially dismissed by the Cook County Circuit Court. But the Illinois Appellate Court’s ruling (PDF) on Friday forces the case back to the Circuit Court for a trial, while the remains under injunction and continues to go unenforced.

“Most young women seek the advice of a parent or a close relative when deciding how to deal with an unplanned pregnancy,” said Lorie A. Chaiten, director of the ACLU of IllinoisReproductive Rights Project in a statement. “Young women who do not tell their parents about their pregnancy or desire to have an abortion, have good reasons, including fear for their personal safety.”

Chaiten argued the case in the appellate court and said she plans to present evidence to a trial court that demonstrates the harms the law imposes.

According to the Guttmacher Institute (PDF), 36 states require some type of parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion; 20 states require parental consent only (in Mississippi and North Dakota both parents must consent); 12 states require parental notification only (Minnesota requires both parents to be notified); four states (Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming) require parental consent and notification.

While many of these states allow minors to bypass these parental and notification laws by obtaining consent from a judge, some states, such as Florida, are attempting to impose restrictions on obtaining such a judicial bypass. Florida’s House Bill 1247 — which as The Florida Independent recently reported was sponsored by the wife of Circuit Court Judge John Stargel, Rep. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) — was presented for Gov. Rick Scott to sign this week.

Measures beefing up parental consent requirements have been introduced in 18 states so far this year, and laws concerning parental notification requirements have been introduced in 11 states, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

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