Illinois to revive 11-year-old parental consent law

The Illinois Supreme Court attempts a return to a long-ignored law.

Published September 22, 2006 4:00PM (EDT)

The Illinois Supreme Court is dusting off an 11-year-old unobserved law requiring parental notification before a minor receives an abortion in the state, reports the Chicago Tribune. On Wednesday, the court issued new rules -- which allow a minor to attempt to waive parental notification by filing a petition in circuit court -- as a means of initiating observance of the law.

According to the books, a physician has to notify a guardian 48 hours before performing an abortion on a patient under the age of 18. There are exceptions for victims of parental abuse, "if the minor is sufficiently mature or if notification is not in the minor's best interests" (as determined by a judge), according to the Tribune.

If the minor decides to file a court petition, the judge has to make a decision within 48 hours, according to the new rules. (If denied, the minor can always file an appeal, wait three days for the appellate court to make a decision, and then a possible additional five days for the state's Supreme Court to weigh in -- all while carrying an unwanted pregnancy!) Opponents reasonably say this could effectively bully young girls out of having abortions. "You can imagine being 16 or 17 and being faced with these rules," Lorie Chaiten, director of the Reproductive Rights Project for the ACLU of Illinois, told the Tribune. "It's an enormously cumbersome process. It will be overwhelming to teens, and ... traumatic to them."

This is a sorry development for Illinois, which is already surrounded by states requiring parental notification; in fact, supporters say minors from nearby states have come to Illinois in the thousands to avoid these laws. Shouldn't that have delivered a strong enough message about why these laws aren't serving teens' interests?

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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