Monday March 29, 2010

Court Vindicates Illinois Law against Secret Abortions for Minors

By Peter J. Smith

CHICAGO, March 29, 2010 ( – An Illinois state judge has dismissed a case launched by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging the constitutionality of the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act, moving the law one step closer to full implementation.

Judge Daniel Riley of Cook County Court ruled that the 1970 Illinois State Constitution does include a right to abortion, but he said the law should stand, since the Illinois right to abortion is not broader than the federal right, thereby allowing for certain restrictions.

The Parental Notice of Abortion Act requires that one parent or legal guardian must be notified 48 hours in advance when a minor aged seventeen or younger seeks an abortion.

“Today’s ruling represents a great step toward ending underage secret abortions in Illinois. This written decision represents the first time an Illinois court has upheld the Parental Notice Act of 1995 against the ACLU’s challenge,” said Peter Breen, executive director and legal counsel at the Thomas More Society. “We look forward to the day that abortion providers are made to respect the rights of parents to know before their daughters are taken for abortions.”

The Thomas More Society had argued that abortion was virtually illegal in Illinois under the 1970 state constitution and thus ruled out a right to an abortion.

Thomas More Society Attorneys were present as “Friends of the Court” for the decision, and say that if the ACLU attempts to appeal, they will renew their request to intervene in the case and once again argue that the Illinois Constitution does not include a right to abortion.

Judge Riley issued a stay on his order, giving 60 days before the law will go into effect, in case the ACLU wanted to file an appeal, which it is expected to do.

The ACLU had intervened in court to strike down the law in November 2009, on the very day when the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995 was finally supposed to go into full effect. The Illinois Medical Disciplinary Board and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation had decided to enforce without further delay the pro-life law, which had been in legal limbo for nearly 15 years while various constitutional issues were hashed out.

Since the passage of the Parental Notice of Abortion Act in 1995, over 50,000 Illinois girls below the age of majority have obtained abortions, more than 4,000 of whom were 14 years old or younger, without any requirement to notify their parents beforehand.

See previous coverage by

UPDATED: After Vote to Put Illinois Parental Notice Law Into Immediate Effect, Judge Issues Restraining Order

7th Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Illinois Parental Notice Act