Ill. Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Parental Notification Law

The Illinois Supreme Court Thursday ended a long fought debate over the unenforced abortion parental notification law, allowing the state to require doctors to notify a girl’s parents 48 hours before an abortion.

The Illinois Supreme Court upheld a circuit court’s previous dismissal of a case challenging the parental notification measure filed by the Hope Clinic for Women and ruled the law must be enforced unless the U.S. Supreme Court determines otherwise.

Under the 1995 law, which was never enforced because of legal challenges, doctors are required to notify the parents of girls 17 and under that their child is seeking an abortion 48 hours prior to the procedure. A girl can get permission from a judge to waive the notification requirement if the judge determines notification is against her best interest, including in cases of sexual abuse.

“The state has an interest in ensuring that a minor is sufficiently mature and well-informed to make the difficult decision whether to have an abortion,” Justice Anne Burke wrote in the court’s majority opinion.

Burke justified the court’s reasoning after citing several U.S. Supreme Court cases from across the country allowing parental notification.

“We are persuaded by the reasoning contained in the Supreme Court cases which have found parental notification statutes constitutional under federal substantive due process and equal protection law,” Burke wrote.

Abortion-rights advocates claimed women should have the right to make decisions involving their bodies and were “disappointed” by the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“Planned Parenthood agrees that in an ideal world, parents would be involved in their teens’ health care and engaged in healthy dialogue around responsible decision making. But in some cases, safe and open communication is not possible,” the company said in a statement. “While we believe the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act puts the health and safety of teens at unnecessary risk, Planned Parenthood of Illinois is committed to doing everything we can to make this new process as easy as possible for teens if the law goes into effect.”

Abortion opponents argue that parents have a right to know whether their child is obtaining an abortion.

“With this ruling, parents across the state and the Midwest can breathe a sigh of relief with the knowledge that state law finally allows them to fully parent their children, and safeguard their lives and those of the unborn,” said Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois.

“This is a huge victory for the rights of parents not only in Illinois but in all Midwestern states,” said Tom Brejcha, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Society.

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