Young Girls Receive Abortions in Illinois without their Parents Knowing

On Sunday, October 11, 2015, the article “Bypassing Parents on Abortions Strain to All,” written by Barbara Brotman, was published in the Chicago Tribune.

The article revealed that the ACLU is potentially abusing the judicial bypass clause in the Parental Notification Law.  According to the Chicago Tribune, in 2014, 55 girls in Cook County, Illinois, under the age of 18, requested and were likely granted abortions by Illinois judges without their parents’ knowledge. Some of these girls were as young as 14 years old.


Let’s put this in perspective:

A school counselor cannot take a high-school student on a field trip, without a parent’s signature.

A child under 18 cannot get a tattoo without parental approval.

A school nurse cannot give a 14 year-old Tylenol without parental consent.

A doctor cannot perform surgery on a minor to remove his or her appendix without parental agreement.

But a judge can send a girl to an abortion clinic to undergo a serious, invasive medical procedure that kills a human person without her parents even knowing?


The Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Law, in effect since 2013, specifically states that a doctor cannot perform an abortion on a minor child (17 years old and younger) until he or she has been ensured that the child’s parent, grandparent, or legal guardian has been notified at least 48 hours before the abortion. Consent is not needed just notification.


So how are these young girls able to bypass the state law?


The ACLU has set up the Judicial Bypass Coordination Project designed to help girls circumvent it. The ACLU believes the Parental Notice of Abortion Law is “intrusive,” even though Illinois actually has the weakest parental notification law in the country. In fact, there is no way to ensure that the law is actually being enforced and followed.

Originally, judicial bypass, was created for girls in abusive situations to circumvent the law and be counseled by a judge instead of their parent. In such a situation, it is the judge’s duty to not only determine if the abortion is in the girl’s best interest, but also to take steps to remove the girl from the abusive and sexual environment. Judicial Bypass is NOT to be used to prevent good parents from being involved in the lives and decisions of their children, who are maturing and need guidance.


However, the ACLU thinks differently.


In the article, Lorie Chaiten, director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Rights Project, views judicial bypass as “an enormous hurdle.”

Emily Werth, staff attorney for the Judicial Bypass Coordination Project, also admits that she has helped girls simply because their parents were against abortion and they fear they will try to stop them. This is a blatant violation of the law. A disagreement with parents does not give a person the right to circumvent a law.

The ACLU continues to seek to reduce the power of the judges to determine what to do in these situations – which would basically void parental notification altogether. In the article, Ms. Chaiten scolded judges who actually asked important, relevant questions, to determine if a girl was in fact experiencing abuse. Some judges asked,

“How long have you been sexually active?”

“How many partners have you had?”

Have you ever been pregnant before?”

She labeled these inquiries as “intrusive,” “challenging,” and “demeaning.”

Furthermore, the courts are having to issue verdicts based upon whether or not they feel the girl is “mature enough” to make the decision without her parents. Judge LaGuina Clay-Herron, one of the Cook County judges who presides over judicial bypass hearings, stated,

“We don’t know her name; we have no identifying information. We don’t know from what county she may be coming, from what state. All we know is we have a Miss Doe in front of us who is under the age of 18 and is seeking a judicial bypass.”

How can judges be expected to determine the maturity of the girl when they know nothing about her and have spent so little time with her? Only her parents, who have known, loved, and raised her, could determine this. And yet, they have no voice at all.


So how many minor girls are being taken for secret abortions without their parents’ even knowing that they will be undergoing a major medical procedure?


Unfortunately there are no statewide records of judicial bypass hearings. Ms. Brotman, who describes the hearings as “private, unseen” moments, claims that possibly every request made by a minor girl in Illinois has been granted. The article states,

“The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, which provides or arranges free representation for young women seeking waivers, has never had a client turned down.”


Amidst these shocking revelations, the Chicago Tribune fails to condemn the evident manipulation of the law by the ACLU. They also neglect to ask the questions: how many of these children are actually removed from their abusive situations? Who would these children in sexual or abusive situations turn to if parental notification was not there? Why are these girls in sexually abusive situations? Who are the parents of these children which the ACLU is driving a wedge between?

State laws are being stealthily circumvented, parents’ rights are being trampled, and young girls are being placed in great possible danger to their health without a single loved one there to help them through it. Women who have had abortions have been known to suffer damage to their reproductive systems, sterility, and even death. Many women regret their abortions and struggle with the physical, mental, and emotional wounds of the procedure for the rest of their lives.

How can we allow young girls who are still growing, learning, and maturing, to make such serious, life-impacting, and potentially dangerous decisions by themselves?