Long-delayed Illinois parental notification law blocked by restraining order


A judge has issued a temporary restraining order on the enforcement of a 1995 Illinois parental notification requirement for minors who seek abortions. Supporters of the law said the decision means Illinois will remain an “abortion dumping ground” for minors wanting to avoid other states’ restrictions.

On Wednesday afternoon Cook County Judge Daniel Riley said he felt the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which sought the order, had “demonstrated the distinct possibility of irreparable harm,” the Associated Press reports.

Thirty-five other states have similar laws, but Illinois has been delayed by various court actions. This means some teens seeking abortions come to Illinois to escape nearby states’ notification laws.

"This is a dumping ground for other states," commented Joseph Scheidler, national director of the Pro-Life Action League. "You go look at the license plates at the abortion clinics."

Lorie Chaiten, head of the Illinois ACLU’s reproductive rights project, claimed that the law would allow young women to be abused. Chaiten also cited the case of one young woman who was abandoned by her mother after she refused to have an abortion.

Assistant Illinois attorney general Thomas Ioppolo argued against the restraining order, asking "Why does Illinois have to have a law that doesn't take the parents into account?"

“The idea of having parental notification serves legitimate interests," he said.

Earlier on Wednesday the Illinois Medical Disciplinary Board had voted not to extend a 90-day grace period.

A spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation said that the board’s vote meant the law had gone into effect, but Judge Riley’s ruling bars the department from enforcing it.

Thomas Brejcha, president of the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, called Illinois "an island of abortion in the Midwest."

A press release from the Thomas More Society said that its attorneys are “reviewing their options” after the decision. Its attorneys will return to court on Nov. 19 to argue in favor of the Society’s continued involvement in the case.

The law requires doctors to notify the parents or guardians of girls 17 or younger before the teens undergo abortions. The law does not require parental consent, but requires 48 hours notice before an abortion.

The law requires no notice in a medical emergency or in cases of sexual abuse. A provision allows girls to bypass parental notification by going to a judge.

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