Illinois judge upholds abortion parental notification law

[JURIST] An Illinois Cook County Circuit Court [official website] judge ruled [opinion, PDF] Monday that the Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995 [text] is constitutional. While lifting the temporary restraining order on the law's enforcement, Judge Daniel Riley approved a 60-day grace period, preventing state officials from enforcing the law pending appeal procedures. The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois (ACLU-IL) [advocacy website] brought suit last year arguing that the law violates privacy, due process, equal protection, and gender equality guaranteed by the Illinois Constitution [text]. Responding to the judgment [press release], ACLU-IL Executive Director Colleen Connell said:

In the wake of today's ruling, we are reviewing our legal options, including an appeal of the Judge's decision. We note that the Judge was careful and blunt in describing the Illinois law as "unfortunate," and in noting that enforcement of the Act will result in horrible outcomes for some young women, including "physical and emotional abuse." However, the Judge ruled in favor of the State because he did not believe that the law would be harmful in every incident where a pregnant minor was compelled to notify a parent of her decision to terminate a pregnancy. We will move swiftly to take all necessary action so that the real threat of abuse so clearly identified by the Judge can be avoided.

Anti-abortion advocate the Thomas More Society [advocacy website] commended the decision [press release], stating that they looked forward "toward ending underage secret abortions."

Riley granted the temporary restraining order [JURIST report] in November, only hours after the Illinois Medical Disciplinary Board ruled to begin enforcing the law. The order was originally sought by the ACLU-IL in support of a suit brought by a local medical doctor and a women's clinic on behalf of themselves and their minor patients. ACLU-IL alleged that enforcement of the law would cause major harm [video] and compromise the privacy of some Illinois teen-aged women. The Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Regulation (DFPR) [official website] granted doctors a 90-day grace period [JURIST report] for enforcement of the parental notification requirement, following a ruling [JURIST report] by the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] that reversed a district court injunction [JURIST report] barring the law's enforcement. The 1995 law, which has never been enforced, authorizes state judges to waive the notice requirement if doing so would be in a minor's best interest, but otherwise requires parental notification for minors seeking an abortion.

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