Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995 Will Go Before the Illinois Supreme Court

Posted by Thomas More Society (November 30, 2011 at 5:39 pm)

Thomas More Society’s Attempt to Intervene in Defense of the Act Also To Be Reviewed

November 30, 2011 (Springfield) – Today, the Illinois Supreme Court agreed to decide a pair of appeals arising out of the ACLU’s latest challenge, based on Illinois’ Constitution  of 1970, to the Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995 – an Act whose enforcement the ACLU has stymied through successive court challenges ever since it became law.  First, the Court ruled it will hear the Attorney General’s petition for review of the Appellate Court’s decision earlier this year, overturning the Cook County Circuit Court’s dismissal of ACLU’s state constitutional challenge to the Act.  Second, the Court also granted review of Thomas More Society’s petition, seeking intervention by county prosecutors whom the Act vested with enforcement responsibilities and who contended that the Attorney General was not adequately representing their interests in defense of the Act.

The Attorney General had argued that the Illinois Constitution of 1970 – even though adopted years before Roe v. Wade upheld a federal abortion right in 1973 – also had guaranteed a right to abort, but that the Illinois abortion right was no stronger than the federal abortion right.  Thus she contended, and the Circuit Court agreed, that the prior defeat of the ACLU’s federal challenge also barred its state law-based challenge.

On the other hand, Thomas More Society argued on behalf of the county prosecutors (for over twenty of whom, as amici curiae, it also filed a brief on the merits) that the record of the Constitutional Convention flatly refuted any claim that the Framers prescribed or guaranteed any abortion rights.  On the contrary, the Framers clearly decided to leave the issue for legislative determination.  Moreover, one stray reference by the Illinois Supreme Court to Roe v. Wade in a case involving access to abortion records related only to privacy of data, and not to any Illinois right to abortion, let alone one stronger than the federal right established in Roe. Indeed, abortion was illegal – indeed, criminal – in Illinois from the time when the State Constitution was adopted until the Roe decision.

Paul Linton, Special Counsel for  Thomas More Society, welcomed the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision to review the Act. ”The Illinois Supreme Court’s action ensures that there will be a prompt, definitive, and final resolution of the law’s constitutionality, and we believe that the high Court will uphold the law. Similar laws in other States have been associated with significant declines in the numbers of out-of-wedlock pregnancies, births, and abortions among minors.  The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized the vital interests that States have in protecting pregnant minors and the rights of their parents to provide guidance and counsel in this very sensitive area.”

Subject to exceptions allowing for confidential “bypassing” of parental notice in cases of abuse, or on showing of the minor’s maturity and best interests, etc., the Illinois Parental Notice Act requires that an unemancipated minor notify one of her parents, her legal guardian, a step-parent residing in the same household, or a grandparent of her intention to obtain an abortion. The Act does not require parental consent, only notice.  Illinois is the only midwest state without either a parental notice of consent law, so that out of state cars driven by adults escorting young girls and women here are a very common sight at Illinois abortion providers, whose patrons thus avoid – or evade – their own state laws.


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