For the past six years, Illinois has enforced the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Law, which requires minors to notify a parent, grandparent, step-parent or legal guardian before they may get an abortion, but some groups are pushing for the law to be repealed.
In March of last year, a bill was brought to the Illinois legislature to repeal the law, and has since passed the Senate Public Health Committee. The bill is now awaiting a full vote in the Senate.
Personal PAC, a statewide pro-choice PAC, has supported this bill and the repeal of the Parental Notice of Abortion Law. Personal PAC CEO and President Terry Cosgrove said the group hopes to have enough votes early in the Senate General Assembly’s spring session for the bill to move to the House.
Cosgrove said he takes issue with the law because it limits the type of health care young women can receive. He said when a young woman becomes pregnant in Illinois, she can carry the baby to term and have a cesarean section, all without telling her parents. The only medical decision that a pregnant minor cannot make without parental notification is having an abortion, according to the Illinois Health and Hospital Association.
“It is wrong, and it puts the health and lives of teenagers at risk,” Cosgrove said. “She can ask for PrEP, the HIV prevention pill, contraception, suicide counseling, HIV testing, a whole bunch of services, but the only thing that she has to involve her parents in is the abortion decision, which is designed solely to prevent young women from getting the medical care they need and deserve.”
Cosgrove also said fear is often the most traumatic part of the abortion process, especially for minors experiencing physical or sexual abuse at home.
Mary Kate Knorr, executive director at Illinois Right to Life, said she agreed that in cases where the guardian abuses the pregnant minor, “the law is flawed.”
However, she also said the law addresses these flaws with some exemptions for parental abuse. If minors live in abusive homes or feel unsafe notifying a parent or guardian, they may present their cases to a judge and have the notification waived, though doing so could take time or resources a pregnant teenager might not have.
Additionally, Knorr said a parent, guardian, grandparent or step-parent must be notified 48 hours before the abortion, but does not have to agree or sign off on the procedure.
The Illinois Judicial Bypass Coordination Project runs a hotline for pregnant minors who need legal assistance to obtain an abortion. However, Jillian Edmonds, staff attorney of the project, said the parental notification requirement is still enough to create fear.
“Running the bypass hotline, we do know that notice, in a lot of cases, is tantamount to consent,” Edmonds said, “because parents have grounded minors, taken away car keys and other things to prevent them from getting to their appointment.”
Knorr, the Right to Life director, said the notification law is important because she believes minors are not mature enough or developed enough to make such important decisions on their own. In the same way the law prohibits actions like smoking or voting, Knorr said we should not allow a “17-year-old girl to kill the child that is inside of her.”
Ed Yohnka, the director of communications and public policy for the ACLU of Illinois, is also pushing for the law to be repealed. He said this law has existed since 1995, but has only been enforced for six years, so repealing it is “reasonable.”
“Last year the Illinois legislature and the governor signed a bill that treats reproductive healthcare as a fundamental right,” Yohnka said. “We should make that consistent for everyone, and that’s really what this repeal is about.”
– Illinois bill to remove abortion restrictions passes House
– Planned Parenthood of Illinois will continue providing abortion referrals after Trump administration rule