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Court decision ends Illinois 'haven' for underage abortions
Thomas Brejcha, chief counsel, Thomas More Society.
Thomas Brejcha, chief counsel, Thomas More Society.

.- A unanimous ruling from the Illinois Supreme Court means that a 1995 law requiring parental notification for a minor seeking an abortion will take effect, with implications in surrounding states as well.

“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 council of the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, on July 11.

The Thomas More Society said that the delay in implementing the law allowed abortions to be performed on non-resident minors, letting them avoiding notification laws in their nearby home states. Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin require parental consent for an abortion, while Iowa and Minnesota require parental notification.

The Catholic legal group charged that many of these young girls were accompanied to the Illinois abortion clinics by the adult men who impregnated them.

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke ruled that 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,” the Chicago Sun-Times reports. She said the law encourages pregnant minors 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.”

The law requires doctors to inform the parent or guardian of a girl under 18 when she seeks to procure an abortion.

Burke said that minors can expect privacy in medical information, but the notification law is a “not unreasonable” intrusion on this privacy. She noted that other Supreme Court cases have ruled that parental notification laws are constitutional.

Over 50,000 abortions have been performed on pregnant minors in Illinois since 1995, including almost 5,000 abortions on girls 14 years old and younger. In the same time period, over 55,000 abortions have been performed on non-residents, though the number of these performed on minors is not known.

The Catholic Conference of Illinois said that the delay in implementing the law allowed the state to be an “abortion haven.”

“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, the conference’s executive director.

The American Civil Liberties Union obtained an injunction to block the law from going into effect in 1995. The injunction was based on unclear rules about a judicial bypass process for minor girls to obtain an abortion without parental notification in certain situations approved by a judge.

Pro-life groups began working to lift the injunction, and Thursday’s decision means the law will take effect in mid-August.

Carol Brite, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said her organization was “disappointed.” The state leader of the abortion provider said the legislation puts “the health and safety of teens at unnecessary risk.”

However, Casey Mattox, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, backed the law.

“The well-being of young women is more important than the bottom line of abortionists,” Mattox said in a July 11 statement. “All this law has sought to do since 1995 is to uphold the duty and desire of parents to protect their own children rather than allow them to be taken advantage of by others.”

“The ACLU kept this law from protecting women for more than 17 years, but that is now over,” Mattox added.

Tags: Abortion, Pro-life, Parental Rights


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