September 21, 2012 — Attorneys on Thursday argued before the Illinois Supreme Court over a 1995 law that requires parents or guardians to be notified before minors can obtain abortion care, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports (O'Connor, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 9/20).
The law, which has never been enforced, requires physicians to notify the parents, grandparents or legal guardians of girls ages 17 or younger at least two days before an abortion. The law includes exceptions for emergencies and cases of sexual abuse. A girl who cannot involve her parents or guardian in her abortion decision can go before a judge to get an order allowing her to get the abortion without complying with the notification requirement.
The law left it to the state Supreme Court to issue rules detailing how judges should address bypass requests. The court did not issue the rules until 2006, and since then, the law has been subject to legal disputes. The state Supreme Court in December 2011 agreed to hear the case (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/2/11).
Currently, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois is asking the court to affirm an appeals court ruling from June 2011 that would allow the case to move forward. The state contends that the law is constitutional and that a lower court's ruling throwing out ACLU's challenge should stand.
Lorie Chaiten, director of the ACLU of Illinois' Reproductive Rights Project, said, "We have a quarter of a century of overwhelming, scientific evidence that demonstrates abortion is far safer than carrying a pregnancy to term, that pregnant minors who have abortion[s] are as healthy if not healthier than those who carry to term, and that pregnant minors who have abortion[s] are as capable as adults, let alone pregnant minors who carry to term, of making their own informed medical decisions" (McKinney, Chicago Sun-Times, 9/21).
Chaiten also told the justices, "The state imposes harmful restrictions on those who seek abortions that it does not impose on those who choose to carry their pregnancies to term."
State Solicitor General Michael Scodro said the law does not place an undue burden on minors, adding that the "U.S. Supreme Court has addressed and resolved that question time and time again" (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 9/20). Although Scodro's boss, state Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D), supports abortion rights, the state's position is that the law is constitutional, said Madigan spokesperson Natalie Bauer (Chicago Sun-Times, 9/21).
The court has not indicated when it will issue its ruling (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 9/20).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership