By Peter J. Smith

CHICAGO, June 1, 2010 ( – Illinois' parental notice law has languished unenforced for nearly 15 years since its initial passage. Now that the constitutionality of the law has been repeatedly vindicated in the courts, pro-life attorneys are demanding the law be enforced.

The embattled Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995 requires that one parent or legal guardian must be notified 48 hours in advance when a minor aged 17 or younger seeks an abortion.

Attorneys from the Thomas More Society filed an appeal with the First District Appellate Court on Friday in an effort to implement the law, which has been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, saying there is no longer a legal basis to delay its enforcement.

“The Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act has held up numerous times against attacks by the ACLU and other opponents, and we believe there is no legal reason to prevent implementation of this long-overdue and much-needed law in Illinois,” said Peter Breen, Thomas More Society executive director and legal counsel. “It is time to enforce this law and put an end to secret abortions in Illinois.”

Judge Daniel Riley of the Cook County Circuit Court dismissed the ACLU lawsuit this past March, ruling the Act constitutionally valid. While he viewed the 1970 Illinois State Constitution as including a right to abortion, he said the Act should stand since the Illinois right to abortion is not broader than the federal right, thereby allowing for certain restrictions.


However, Riley issued an indefinite stay on his order for the duration of the ACLU's legal appeal, which was filed on Thursday.

Thomas More Society legal counsel Peter Breen told that they are challenging the stay, as the appeal process could take years and further delay the implementation of the  repeatedly vindicated law.

“It's been absurd the delay on this law,” said Breen, noting that the Act was approved in 1995.

The Thomas More Society has intervened in the case on behalf of county prosecutors Stu Umholtz, Republican State Attorney of Tazwell County, and Ed Deters, Democrat State Attorney of Effingham County. The State Attorneys are demanding the law be enforced, so they can defend the interests of parents in their counties whose minor daughters are procuring secret abortions.

Breen added that the Thomas More Society is acting to ensure that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan defends the parental notice act properly. Breen explained that otherwise Madigan has little incentive to defend the pro-life law, as Planned Parenthood was the fourth largest contributor in her election campaign.

The pro-life legal advocates plan to file a docketing statement with the district court within a week, and will then prepare briefs arguing for the immediate implementation of the law.

The appeals process, Breen said, may go as far as the state Supreme Court, which would likely rule in favor of the law. Five years previously, the Supreme Court created a court by-pass procedure designed to make the law constitutional in Illinois. But Breen cautioned that the outcome will depend on the strategy of the ACLU, which has shown a willingness to delay a law as long as possible before dropping an appeal they may very well lose.

In November 2009, the ACLU intervened in court to strike down the parental notice law on the very day it was finally supposed to go into full effect. However, the Illinois Medical Disciplinary Board and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation decided to enforce the pro-life law without further delay. The law 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

Court Vindicates Illinois Law against Secret Abortions for Minors

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