Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Law

What are the requirements of the law?

No physician can knowingly perform an abortion on a minor child (17 years old and younger) until that physician (or an agent of the physician) has ensured that the child’s parent, grandparent, or legal guardian has received notice 48 hours prior to performing the abortion that his or her child is seeking.

Prior to this law, a school counselor could not take a child on a school field trip without parental consent; however, that same school counselor could place a minor girl in a cab and send her to an abortion clinic for a serious surgical procedure without telling her parents. Similarly, underage girls couldn’t be prescribed Tylenol by a school nurse without parental consent but these girls could receive an invasive medical procedure without their parents’ knowledge.

The parental notification of abortion law went into effect in Illinois in August of 2013. With the Law in affect for just under 5 months, abortions on minor girls dropped 20%. Abortions on minor girls 14 years old and younger dropped 30.1%.

Any person who fraudulently signs a notice waiver for a minor child can be sentenced to 30 days in jail and/or fined up to $1,500.

You can read the full text of the law here.

Is the law constitutional?

Yes. In 2013, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the law was constitutional and subsequently ordered it to go into effect.

What is judicial bypass?

The judicial bypass rule gives an outlet in extreme cases for girls to circumvent the Parental Notice of Abortion Law and be counseled by a judge instead of their parents. The intent of the Judicial Bypass Rule is to provide a safe haven for minor girls who are in an abusive situation, such as incest or parental threats if she has an abortion. In this circumstance, it is a judge’s duty not to merely determine if having an abortion is in the best interest of the girl, but the judge must also take steps to remove the girl from that abusive situation. Using judicial bypass as a drive-through to circumvent good parents from being involved in their child’s lives is an abomination and puts a child’s health in danger.

It is against the law for parents to retaliate against their child by refusing nourishment, shelter, or clothing to a minor child if the parents disagree with that child’s decision to abort their pregnancy or to give birth to their child. Parents who retaliate with this child abuse should be prosecuted to the fullest extent allowed by law.

What’s the History of the Law?

(According to Thomas More Society of Chicago, the attorneys that defended the law):

In 1983, the General Assembly passed the Illinois Parental Notification of Abortion Act of 1983. It was found unconstitutional by the courts and was never enforced.

Finally, in 1995, the Parental Notification Act of 1995 became law, requiring a parent or guardian to be notified 48 hours before a child under 18 has an abortion. The ACLU immediately obtained an injunction in Federal Court due to unclear rules on the judicial bypass procedure by which a minor girl could obtain an abortion without her parents being notified if a judge approved the procedure. The law remained locked in judicial limbo for over a decade.

In 2005, the Thomas More Society began implementing Special Counsel Paul Linton’s legal strategy to get the injunction lifted. Representatives of pro-life organizations met with DuPage County State’s Attorney Joseph Birkett in the spring of 2005 to ask him to petition the Illinois Supreme Court to adopt the rules required by the 1995 Act. Birkett agreed and filed his petition in June 2006.

On September 7, 2006, the Thomas More Society, representing a range of interested organizations, filed a supplemental petition with the state supreme court. Less than two weeks later, the Illinois Supreme Court, under the leadership of Chief Justice Bob Thomas, unanimously adopted Supreme Court Rule 303A.

After various delays, Attorney General Lisa Madigan returned to federal court in March 2007 and petitioned Judge David Coar to lift the permanent injunction which had been issued eleven years earlier. After Judge Coar denied the petition, the Thomas More Society intervened in the case on behalf of State’s Attorneys Stu Umholtz (Republican, Tazewell County) and Ed Deters (Democrat, Effingham County) to press an appeal against the injunction.

In the fall of 2009, after Thomas More Society had filed a writ of mandamus, urging that the law be enforced, and in September of that year, it was enforced for the first time ever—but only for four hours. Once again, the ACLU intervened and convinced a judge to put a temporary restraining order on the law preventing its enforcement.

In the spring of 2010, the Illinois attorney general argued that the Illinois State Constitution protects the fundamental right to abortion even though the constitution was penned in 1970—three years before the monumental Roe v. Wade decision.

Though that request was denied, on March 29, 2010, Judge Daniel Riley dismissed the ACLU’s case and the Thomas More Society joined the case as “friends of the court.”

In 2011, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed and remanded the decision of the Cook County Circuit Court that upheld the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995 on state constitutional grounds. The Appellate Court did not resolve the ultimate legal issues raised in the case, even though those issues were fully briefed in both the trial and appellate courts.

On November 30, 2011, the Illinois Supreme Court agreed to decide a pair of appeals arising out of the ACLU’s latest challenge of the legality of the Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995—an Act whose enforcement the ACLU has stymied through successive court challenges ever since it became a law.

On July 11, 2013, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Illinois’ long-delayed Parental Notice of Abortion Act did not violate the Illinois Constitution and thus would finally go into effect.

Until now, Illinois was the only Midwestern state without a parental notice or consent law in effect. This allowed thousands of abortions to be performed in Illinois on non-resident minors who crossed state lines, often accompanied by the adults who impregnated them, to evade their own state’s parental notice or consent laws. However, with the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act now being enforced, Illinois can no longer be a “fugitive” abortion state – a “dumping ground” for out-of-state minors’ abortions.

Now, under the Illinois law, passed in 1995 but not ruled enforceable until now, a parent or guardian must be notified at least 48 hours before a child under the age of 18 undergoes an abortion.

Read the Court’s decision here.