Illinois Supreme Court hears arguments in 1995 parental notification law

By Dave Andrusko

The Illinois Supreme Court today heard arguments over the constitutionality of a seventeen-year-old parental notification law that never went into effect because of a legal challenge brought immediately upon enactment. The case has bounced around the state’s courts ever since.

In 1995 the Illinois legislature passed the “Parental Notice of Abortion Act,” which was so permissive that even the then-Governor, pro-abortion Jim Edgar, agreed to affix his signature. In June of that year, the ACLU quickly persuaded a federal judge to grant a restraining order just hours after Edgar had signed the measure into law.

Under the law, when the girl is under 18, two days before an abortion is to be performed the abortionist must tell a parent, step-parent living in the household, grandparent, or legal guardian. A judge can waive notice if he/she determines the minor is “sufficiently mature” to make the abortion decision or if notification is not in her “best interest.”

The justices heard arguments this morning in a law suit brought by the ACLU to declare the law unconstitutional. According to the Thomas More Society, which seeks to intervene in defense of the law, “The ACLU brings claims that the law is a violation of the Illinois State Constitution of 1970, even though the Act was upheld as constitutional after a lengthy federal litigation that concluded three years ago.”

“The Cook County trial court had dismissed the ACLU’s case on the ground that an Illinois abortion right was no stronger than the federal right, and thus the federal court upheld the parental notice law that was dispositive of the state court lawsuit,” the Society said in a release.  “The Appellate Court, however, reversed and remanded the lawsuit for further proceedings on the merits of ACLU’s claim.”

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