Texas law buoys repeal of Illinois' abortion notification

The General Assembly is being both alarmed and energized by Texas' ban on most abortions. Abortion-rights advocates are focusing on what both sides consider to be the last restriction on Illinois access to abortion.

Texas law buoys repeal of Illinois' abortion notification

Both the Senate and House Democrats are trying to repeal a law that required parents or guardians to be notified 48 hours before a minor seeking an abortion. As it is in almost half of the states, consent is not required.

Supporters of parental-notice say it is a commonsense approach to ensuring minors have access to their health care. It can also identify abusive children who require additional support. Opponents claim it is only for delaying a minor's constitutional rights to choose their own health care. This could lead to adverse consequences.

Repeal is viewed as a matter of extreme urgency by its supporters. Texas law bans abortions within six weeks of detection of cardiac activity. The U.S. Supreme Court will also hear a challenge to a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 week.

"There's another dimension to this now ...,"," said Rep. Anna Moeller (an Elgin Democrat who sponsored the repeal's House sponsorship). "I anticipate Texas-style laws to be coming to states close by us. There are already many states with strict abortion access laws. This will be a race to the bottom: Who is the most tough on abortion until the Supreme Court weighs-in?

Moeller stated that she is talking to her colleagues, counting votes, and trying to persuade moderate Democrats. Elgie Sims, a Democratic Senator from Chicago, has similar legislation in Congress. However, he didn't respond to a request for comment. If they are able to collect enough votes, they have an ally who is ready to sign the law.

Democratic Gov.: "I support repealing PNA." J.B. Pritzker stated last week. "I don’t know if the Legislature will bring it up during the two weeks of the veto session but I have supported it since I was elected."

After years of legal challenges by the American Civil Liberties Union, the 1995 law was not implemented until 2013.

According to statistics from the Illinois Department of Public Health, abortions in Illinois have remained stable over the past three years, while minor abortions have dropped by 38% to 1,092 last year. Both categories have seen a decline in numbers since the mid-90s. Overall, abortions fell 25% from a peak of 49,131 in 1996. Abortions among minors dropped 79% to 1,003 in 2017 and 4,853 respectively in 1995.

Amy Gehrke (executive director of Illinois Right to Life) said, "It's very commonsense and transcends the issue of abortion." This is because parents have the right to participate in their children's health-care decisions. Illinois law prohibits minor girls from getting their ears pierced. They also can't have tattoos done, can't use tanning beds, and can't take part in school field trips. Parents can't give their consent for their children to get aspirin from school nurses.

Gehrke points out that many people misinterpret Illinois law to require consent. It is simply notification to a parent or grandparent. It is the facility that conducts the procedure and not the minor who must give the notice.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, of 38 states that require parental involvement in an abortion decision by a minor, 21 require parental consent. In three cases, both parents must consent.

A girl may be placed in a situation in which notifying her parents or other relatives could cause her harm. She can then go to a judge, who will decide if she is emotionally and mature enough to make that decision for herself. According to Brigid Leehy, senior director of policy for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, this has occurred 550 times. A judge denied abortion access once.

Gehrke and other pro -notice activists believe that the judicial bypass allows for a judge to identify minors who have been abused or are victims of sex traficking and to get them the social services and support they need. Their opponents claim that judges are only there for the abortion question and do not have any involvement in saving minors from treachery.

Ed Yohnka, a spokesperson for the ACLU, stated that while project lawyers have never been involved in an instance where a child required that type of rescue, judges would certainly intervene if necessary.

This is enough reason to keep the law, stated Bob Gilligan, executive Director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois. He has been lobbying legislators to stop repeal of the law since the spring legislative session.

Gilligan asked, "If you limit the law, then what's there?" "None. "Is that good public policy?"

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