The Repeal of Parental Notice: We Will NOT Give Up Hope!

Anyone who watched last week’s debate over the Parental Notice of Abortion Act (PNA) witnessed a parade of the abortion industry’s most misleading tropes. These included lots of passionate proclamations about a woman’s right to choose, that abortion is healthcare, and that pro-life advocates don’t trust women.

Pro-life leaders, on the other hand, provided a heart-felt, commonsense defense of the truth regarding PNA. For instance, we made it clear that the discussion was not about women; it was about children as young as 10-years-old from Illinois and throughout the country having abortions without their parents’ knowledge in Illinois. That repealing PNA trampled the right of parents to be involved in their children’s healthcare. That this repeal would enable sexual predators to cover their crimes with abortions.

Pro-abortion  Rep. Kelly Cassidy gave a heart-wrenching speech on the floor of the Illinois House about growing up in an abusive home. She stated that, had she become pregnant, she could not have told her mother as it would have led to another beating from her father. Because of this, she urged the repeal of the Parental Notice of Abortion Act.

Rep. Cassidy’s testimony was heartbreaking, but not for the reasons those who voted for repeal thought.

Eliminating PNA provides no long-term solutions to young women facing domestic abuse. PNA gave young girls the opportunity to talk to a judge and escape their abusers. With the repeal of PNA, the state of Illinois is not offering these young women solutions, it is offering them a dead child and a bag of birth control.

Girls who are victims of abuse and want an abortion were always able to go before a judge, privately in their chambers, to receive a judicial waiver. The ACLU stated that over 500 girls who had requested a waiver, but only one was denied.

Similarly, the repeal did nothing for girls who are victims of human trafficking or statuatory rape. 

Prior to PNA’s enforcement, 41-year-old Jeffrey Dean Cheshier of Arkansas stood accused of raping a minor girl then taking her, against her will, across the Illinois border to the so-called Hope Clinic (an abortion clinic that performs elective, late-term abortions in Fairview Heights, Illinois) for a forced abortion. Shortly after charges were filed against him, Cheshier committed suicide. Once the repeal of PNA takes effect next year, human traffickers and sexual predators, like Cheshier, will be able to hide their crimes with abortions.

Additionally, the fact is that the vast majority of parents love their daughters and want what’s best for them. If a child faces medical complications from her abortion, it is the parent who must help her find care. A child in Illinois cannot get a piercing, a tattoo, or even receive an aspirin at school without her parents’ consent. PNA simply required a parent to be notified prior to their minor daughter’s abortion. Those legislators who voted to repeal PNA clearly cared more about protecting sexual predators than the rights of parents.

Rather than taking the rights away from millions of parents who love their children, Representative Cassidy and her cohort could have joined forces with pro-life advocates to find real solutions for these children. Doing the will of Illinois’s abortion industry lobbyists apparently mattered more.

Unfortunately, as is often the case with abortion advocates, opponents of PNA chose to peddle untruths, misrepresentations, and outright lies in order to convince the more moderate pro-choice politicians to repeal it. Just consider the following statement by Rep. Anna Moeller, the House sponsor of the bill to repeal PNA, during the hearing on the legislation:

““[Attaining a judicial bypass so your parents will not be notified] is no easy, minor bureaucratic process . . . This involves a young woman hiring an attorney on her own, setting up a court date; finding a way to get to court, standing in front of a judge in a courtroom that’s generally a venue for criminal activities; explaining why she’s pregnant; explaining why she needs to have an abortion, and why she can’t go to her parents to let them know about that.”

As numerous witnesses, including a judge who oversees judicial bypass hearings, testified: (1) an attorney is not needed, (2) a judge does not set a court date on their schedule—these hearings are expedited due to their time-sensitive nature, (3) a young woman does not stand in front of a judge in a courtroom, but instead meets with a judge in plain clothes who talks with the young woman while in their chambers, (4) courtrooms are not generally a venue for “criminal activities” since judges oversee all kinds of non-criminal cases, (5) notification is made by abortion clinics, not the young women, so there is no situation in which a girl has to “go to her parents to let them know about” their abortion. 

One single sentence from the sponsor of this egregious legislation contained five attempts to mislead. 

That girls were required to tell their parents about their wish for an abortion was one of the biggest misconceptions pro-abortion lobbyists and legislators attempted to spread. The truth is, the PNA law clearly states that the abortion industry was required to notify parents, not the minor girls.

On Tuesday, during the Senate Executive Committee hearing, there were dozens of claims that PNA requires a girl to notify her parents. It wasn’t until Wednesday that Mary FioRito, while testifying in front of the House Executive Committee on behalf of Parents for the Protection of Girls, informed legislators that abortion clinics—not the girls themselves—are required to notify a parent or guardian that their underage child has scheduled an abortion.

In the end, the abortion industry won this battle. After decades of Illinois being one of the most pro-life states in the nation, Illinois has lost every single one of its pro-life laws over the past few years. Rep. Anna Moeller said that PNA was the “the last anti-abortion law that we have on the books in Illinois” and Rep. Kelly Cassidy added that PNA was a “gaping hole” in Illinois’s “firewall to protect reproductive health.”

Rep. Cassidy also repeated during floor debate that “Illinois is different,” that our state protects a woman’s right to choose. Our state IS different. We have no protections for preborn children and their mothers. We have radical, pro-abortion laws that are out-of-step with the opinions of a majority of Americans, even some who consider themselves pro-choice. Here in Illinois, 72% of Illinois voters support Parental Notice of Abortion, including 55% who identified as pro-choice.

There is no pro-life legislation left to defend in Illinois. Make no mistake, though—this does NOT mean Illinois Right to LIfe and the pro-life community of our state are defeated.

A few of you have heard about our three-tiered strategy to win Illinois for Life. The key word is strategy. The pro-life community of Illinois is strong. We must work together strategically to begin chipping away at the stranglehold the abortion industry has on our state. 

Through education, targeting of the legislators who have made our state an island of abortion extremism, and providing practical resources to women facing crisis pregnancies, we can and we will win Illinois for life again. As we’ve said before, it won’t be easy, it won’t happen overnight, but it can and it will — it must — be done.

We cannot achieve our goals without your help. We need your financial help. Winning Illinois for life will not be cheap. We need you as a volunteer. We urge you to stay tuned throughout 2022 as we announce opportunities for you to help educate the people of Illinois.

Now is not the time to be discouraged or defeated. Now is the time to stand up against the lies of the abortion industry. It bears much repeating: We can and we will win Illinois for life!