Federal Judge Blocks Effort to Revive Dormant Illinois Law Restricting Teenagers' Access to Abortion

Affiliate: ACLU of Illinois
February 6, 2007 12:00 am

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    CHICAGO, IL – U.S. District Court Judge David Coar today rebuffed an effort by the Illinois Attorney General’s office to lift a 1996 injunction barring enforcement of the Illinois Parental Notice Act, which restricts teenagers’ access to abortion. The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois welcomed the ruling.

    The Attorney General’s office argued in a January 19 filing that the Illinois Supreme Court had adopted rules to implement judicial bypass of the parental notice requirement and that, therefore, it was appropriate for the federal court to dissolve the decade-old injunction. Judge Coar denied this request on the grounds that Illinois state courts are not positioned to implement a bypass process, making the Attorney General’s request inappropriate.

    “Judge Coar recognized that courts in Illinois are not prepared with an expeditious and confidential process for a judicial bypass of the mandatory parental notice,” said Lorie A. Chaiten, Director of the Reproductive Rights Project of the ACLU of Illinois. “Without this confidential and expeditious process, the health and well-being of young women in the State of Illinois could not be protected.”

    “We heard Judge Coar indicate today that he is not prepared to rule on allowing enforcement of the mandatory parental notice law until the courts across our state can ensure the process will protect the constitutional rights of young women as well as their health and safety,” added Chaiten.

    This concern is supported by medical experts and research in this area. The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes mandatory parental notification laws, because such laws are dangerous to the health and lives of young women. The AAP is joined in its opposition by every major medical organization, including the American Medical Association, the Society for Adolescent Medicine, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Public Health Association.

    Documented evidence shows that the vast majority of young women facing unwanted pregnancies consult with a parent, older sibling, religious advisor or a close family friend for decision-making guidance. When a young woman does not consult her parents, it is for good reason – including, very often, fears of physical and emotional abuse, harm to other family members and the prospect of being made homeless.

    “We are delighted with the court’s ruling and committed to our advocacy to protect the health and well-being of young women in our state,” said Chaiten.

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