December 2, 2011 — The Illinois Supreme Court on Wednesday accepted a case against a 1995 state law that requires guardians to be notified before minors can have an abortion, the Chicago Tribune reports.
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 (Long, Chicago Tribune, 12/1). The law includes exceptions for emergencies and cases of sexual abuse. Girls also may request that a judge allow them to bypass 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.
According to Paul Linton, an attorney for the antiabortion-rights Thomas More Society, federal courts have rejected challenges to the law. In addition, he said the U.S. Supreme Court has held that state efforts to protect "pregnant minors and the rights of their patents to provide guidance and counsel in this very sensitive area" are legitimate.
Opponents of the law argue that it violates the privacy, equal protection and gender equality clauses of the Illinois Constitution. Lorie Chaiten, director of the Reproductive Rights Project for the American Civil Liberties Union's Illinois branch, said she believes the case will return to the lower courts for review of "evidence demonstrating that the real-life harms this law imposes cannot be justified" (Hawkins, AP/Quad-City Times, 11/30).
The state Supreme Court could hear arguments next spring or summer (Chicago Tribune, 12/1).
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