Courts Restore Age Old Abortion Law

Teens wanting abortion now required to get parent's consent

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    If pregger teens can't take on the responsibility of having a child, then they must have their parent's consent before getting an abortion.

    It’s a hot-topic debate that has been in dispute for decades.

    Now, the federal appeals court has restored the Illinois law requiring teenage girls to notify their parents before getting abortions.

    The legislation, first passed in 1984 and then updated in 1995, states that minors can’t get an abortion without telling their parents or without getting a bypass for the requirement from the courts.

    On Tuesday, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s ruling that had barred enforcement of the measure. The lower court originally said the option of using the courts to avoid needing parental consent was not workable. But the appellate court disagreed.

    Until now the law has never been enforced because of legal quarreling.

    As some people’s blood boils with the heated decision of the Illinois Parental Notice Act, others look at it as achievement.

    "This is an incredible victory for Illinois parents and their children," said Peter Breen, Executive Director and Legal Counsel of the Thomas More Society in Chicago. "Parental involvement laws enjoy overwhelming public support. These laws promote the integrity of the family and ensure that parents are consulted so that their children are not forced into an abortion decision. A wealth of social science data indicates that parental involvement laws lead to lower pregnancy rates, out-of-wedlock births and abortions."

    According to the Thomas More Society, before the act was passed, 50,000 Illinois minors had obtained abortions, more than 4,000 teens 14 years or younger, without a parent’s consent.

    But others hold a differing opinion and are disappointed by the court's decision.

    “Most teens seek their parents’ advice and counsel when making decisions about their health care,” Steve Trombley, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said in a press release. “But in some cases, safe and open communication is not possible. In those cases, research shows mandatory parental notice laws do not enhance parent-teen communication, but they may be harmful to teens’ health and well-being.”

    Either way the courts have made it clear. Starting Aug. 4, 2009, teens who get pregnant will have to obtain their parents' consent if they want an abortion, or go to court to get around it.