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Seventh Circuit dissolves injunction against Illinois abortion notification law

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] on Tuesday dissolved [opinion, PDF] an injunction that had previously barred the enforcement of a controversial abortion notification law in Illinois. Having been the subject of numerous court challenges, the Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995 [text] was most recently enjoined [JURIST report] by the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois [official website] early last year. That court found the statute invalid because its judicial bypass provision lacked language that would allow for a judge to waive the notification requirement in cases involving certain minors. The Seventh Circuit panel stated that the statute had a basis in US Supreme Court precedent:

[B]y encouraging parental involvement, without requiring it where the minor is mature or such involvement will do more harm than good, laws such as the notice statute before us are, at least facially, closely tailored to serve the state’s important interest in making sure minor women make informed decisions about whether to have an abortion
The court pointed to the statute’s language authorizing state judges to waive the notice requirement if doing so would be in a minor’s best interest. The court went on to emphasize the open nature of the statutory language, explaining that judges are not bound to consider both the maturity and the interests of the minor in any given case, and adding that minors lacking the maturity to consent to an abortion are provided for under the statute.

Prior to today's ruling, Illinois had been the only state in the region without an active parental notification law [JURIST news archive], causing pro-life groups to argue that minors from surrounding states travel to Illinois to obtain abortions. Thirty-five other US states have enforceable parental notification or permission laws. In June 2007, the governor of New Hampshire signed a repeal of the state's parental notification law [JURIST report], which never took effect. In 2006, voters in Oregon and California rejected statutes that would have required notification [JURIST report], although those measures allowed minors to request a judge to bypass the requirement.

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