Illinois abortion notification law back in trial court

June 17, 2011

Cityroom and AP Wires

The Illinois Appellate Court has sent a never-enforced law requiring a girl's guardians to be notified before she has an abortion back to the circuit court for trial.

The ruling Friday reverses a decision by the Cook County Circuit Court, which had lifted a restraining order on the law but allowed time for appeals before it could be enforced.

The law requires doctors to notify the guardians of a girl 18 years old or younger 48 hours before the girl gets an abortion. Girls can bypass parental notification by going to a judge.

Approved by the Illinois General Assembly in 1995, the Parental Notice of Abortion Act has never taken effect because of court challenges. The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois sued the state over the measure. They argue it is unconstitutional and could put young girls at risk.

"When a teen can't tell a parent, it is for a very good reason--ranging from validated concerns about physical abuse or emotional abuse, and in some cases actually being evicted from the family home," said Colleen Connell, executive director of the Illinois ACLU.

Tom Brejcha, president of the Thomas More Society, disagrees with both the ACLU's arguments. He said the legal system provides assistance to help girls who fear repercussions from their parents or guardians.

"There is the provision for a confidential, expedited bypass hearing where any young woman who feels she's in danger can go right to court and very quickly get before a judge and explain the situation to a judge," Brejcha said.

The appellate court's ruling allows young girls to get abortions without parental notification until the case is decided.

Tony Arnold and Lauren Chooljian contributed reporting.