The Illinois Supreme Court has announced it has agreed – after 11 years of delays – to develop rules for parental notification of abortions on girls under the age of 18, and pro-life groups say that may “rescue Illinois from its notorious position as the abortion dumping ground of the Midwest.”
That comment comes from Joseph M. Scheidler, national direction of the Pro-Life Action League, who said until now, Illinois was the only state in the region without a parental notification requirement.
“Illinois has become a target state for minors from surrounding states who are seeking to avoid their own states’ parental notice and parental consent laws,” he said.
In the Chicago area, teens arrive at abortion clinics from Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan and Iowa, while southern Illinois clinics see teens from Missouri, Kentucky and Kansas, he said.
The high court’s announcement this week means the judges will answer a request from DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett and write the rules that allow for judicial bypass of the notification. That, officials say, will allow a federal injunction preventing implementation of the parental notice portion of the law to be lifted, and the requirement will take effect.
A coalition including Illinois Citizens for Life, Illinois Federation for Right to Life, the Illinois Right to Life Committee, the Illinois Family Institute, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum of Illinois, Orthodox Christians for Life-Chicago, Lutherans for Life, Concerned Christian Americans and the Catholic Conference of Illinois just a week earlier also had petitioned the court with the same request.
The law was approved by the state legislature in 1995 and signed then by Gov. Jim Edgar, providing that a parent or guardian must be notified 48 hours before a child under 18 has an abortion.
Until this week, however, “the Illinois Supreme Court had refused to write rules that the law requires for an appeals process,” according to the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, which delivered the petitions to each of the seven judges in the court.
Society lawyer Tom Brejcha said abortions are “invasive medical” procedures and only in rare cases, such as domestic abuse, should parents be denied the opportunity to give advice and support.
“This will give Illinois parents the involvement they should have in the health-care choices their minor daughters make,” Scheidler said.
“We look forward to the day soon when the law can go into effect, and we are a step closer in finally recognizing the importance of parents in their children’s lives, and especially at time when they are vulnerable to exploitation,” said Karen Hayes, CWA of Illinois state director.
Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, said he would “applaud” the court’s decision, even if it is late.
Pro-life advocates noted that the change came about under the leadership of Bob Thomas, the court’s new chief justice.
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