Illinois Supreme Court upholds Notice of Abortion Act

By Dave Andrusko

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke

Eighteen years in the making, a 1995 Illinois law which never went into effect may at last take effect, thanks to a unanimous decision today handed down by the state Supreme Court.

As the length of battle would suggest, the Parental Notice of Abortion Act moved up and down the legal chain on many, many occasions thanks to the American Civil Liberties Union which fought the law tooth and nail.

The law is by no means an ideal parental notification measure. It applies only to girls 17 and under and allows notification of “a person over 21 years of age who is the parent, grandparent, step-parent living in the household, or legal guardian.”

Writing for the court Justice Anne Burke said, “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 . …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.

That parental notification laws are constitutional is a conclusion validated by a string of United States Supreme Court.

“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. “We conclude, therefore, that our Parental Notice Act furthers a ‘constitutionally permissible end’ by encouraging an unmarried, pregnant minor to seek the help and advice of a parent or other adult family member in making the very important decision whether or not to bear a child,” she said.

By contrast, Carol Brite, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, told the Chicago Sun-Times, “We are disappointed by the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995.” She added that PP of Illinois believes the law “puts the health and safety of teens at unnecessary risk.”

Illinois is the only Midwest state without a parental notification or consent law, which “allowed thousands of abortions to be performed in Illinois on non-resident minors who crossed state lines, often accompanied by the adults who impregnated them, to evade their own state’s parental notice or consent laws,” according to the Thomas More Society which was heavily involved in the case.

Over the years NRL News and NRL News Today have carried many stories on the starts, near-starts, and reversals which (apparently) came to a halt today—unless there is an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.