Legislation / Court Cases

Illinois Parental Notification Law on Abortion Blocked Again by Court Decision

The on again, off again nature of the Illinois parental notification law reads like the script of a soap opera because the status of the relationship between the law and the courts changes so frequently.

In the latest turn of events, a circuit court judge decided to uphold a restraining order.

That order prevents enforcement of the law — meant to allow parents to know 48 hours in advance when their minor daughter is considering an abortion so they can help her find positive alternatives — from going into effect until at least January.

Judge Dan Riley says he’s waiting for briefs from both sides before determining whether the law should stand.

Lorie Chaiten represented the American Civil Liberties Union in court in its attempt to overturn the law while Thomas More Society attorneys presented a motion to vacate the temporary restraining order.

Earlier this month, Judge Riley blocked enforcement of the parental notification law on abortion just hours after a state board approved letting it go into effect.

Parents in Illinois have waited for 15 years for a law to go into effect and a vote from the Illinois’ Medical Disciplinary Board made it appear that would happen.

The Illinois legislature approved the law in the 1990s, but it has been held up in court waiting for the Illinois Supreme Court to issue the rules guiding the law’s implementation.

After the court did its job, state officials blocked enforcement of the law with a 90-day grace period for abortion centers to became aware of it — even though similar laws have been on the books in other states for decades.

The board met in Chicago and decided not to extend the grace period further that the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation put in place.

However, Riley ruled in favor of the pro-abortion American Civil Liberties Union, which convinced him to issue an injunction with its claims that it violates the state constitution — even though abortion was not legal when the constitution was put in place.

Illinois would have joined 35 other states with similar laws with a statute that requires that abortion practitioners inform the parents of a teenager seeking an abortion.

The Chicago-based Thomas More Society told LifeNews.com why it supports the law.

“Girls that face an unwanted pregnancy will be guaranteed access to the most important pregnancy crisis counselors: their parents,” said Tom Brejcha, the president of the pro-life legal group.

“We’ve fought this legal battle so that Illinois would join with the majority of the people in the nation who value parental rights and the well-being of their children,” he added.

Not content to run an operation that guides young women on how to avoid a parental notification law and have a secret abortion, the ACLU of Illinois filed a lawsuit last month seeking to overturn the statute.

The ACLU claims that having a teenage girl notify her parents that she wants to have a surgical procedure that would kill her unborn child and could possibly cause her medical and mental health problems presents “serious and irreversible harm to teens.”

The lawsuit, on behalf of Illinois abortion centers, says “most young women who seek abortions already involve their parents,” which makes pro-life advocates in the state wonder why the ACLU would sue to overturn the parental involvement law.

The lawsuit cites emergency situations and gives examples of “teens whose parents beat them, threw them out of the house, and/or forced them to become a parent against their will when they found out about the pregnancy.”

However, the law already provides for a judicial bypass procedure whereby teenagers who face domestic violence concerns don’t have to involve their parents in the abortion decision.

The ACLU should know because it is already exploiting that aspect of the law.

Anna Clark at RH Reality Check, a pro-abortion blog, wrote recently that she is excited about how the Illinois ACLU is exploiting that loophole in the law to get abortions for any teenager who doesn’t want to tell their parents.

Leah Bartelt, the pro-abortion staff counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in Illinois, is among those who have teamed together to form The Illinois Judicial Bypass Coordination Project as a response to the state’s new parental involvement law.

Clark admits the ACLU will exploit the abuse provision.

“It is designed to not only protect the right of the judicial bypass, but to make it accessible to young women who might otherwise be daunted by dodging through the legal process on their own,” she said.

In its legal papers, the Illinois ACLU claims “Illinois courts are not prepared to handle these cases,” which makes it appear it will push so many teenagers into secret abortions that the court system will be overwhelmed.

A Texas version of the hotline found 469 minors from around the country called to get secret abortions with its help.

The Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995 had been enjoined and
dormant since its passage by the Illinois General Assembly. This summer, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved the permanent injunction.

The filing by the ACLU in state court challenges the law on state constitutional grounds and asks for an injunction to prevent the law from helping teens and their parents while the lawsuit moves forward in court.

The Hope Clinic for Women abortion center and Dr. Allison Cowett, the Director of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center for Reproductive Health are the plaintiffs named in the ACLU lawsuit. No teenagers or their parents are parties in the suit claiming to represent their interests.

Related web sites:
Thomas More Society – http://www.thomasmoresociety.org

[20Nov09, http://www.lifenews.com/state4589.html, Springfield, IL]

 

7th Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Illinois Parental Notice Act

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit today dissolved the federal injunction against the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act. As a result of the court’s decision in Zbaraz v. Hartigan, for the first time Illinois law will entitle parents to notification before their minor daughters are taken for abortions.

The decision is the culmination of four years work by the Thomas More Society, particularly TMS Special Counsel Paul Linton, who devised the legal strategy which ultimately led to the lifting of the injunction.

“This is an incredible victory for Illinois parents and their children,” said Peter Breen, Executive Director and Legal Counsel of the Thomas More Society.

“Parental involvement laws enjoy overwhelming public support. These laws promote the integrity of the family and ensure that parents are consulted so that their children are not forced into an abortion decision. A wealth of social science data indicates that parental involvement laws lead to lower pregnancy rates, out-of-wedlock births and abortions.”

The Parental Notice Act has been in legal limbo for more than ten years because of the Illinois Supreme Court’s refusal to issue the rules necessary to make the Act effective. Since the passage of the Act in 1995, over 50,000 Illinois minors have obtained abortions, more than 4,000 of whom were 14 years old or younger, without any requirement to notify their parents beforehand.

Following Linton’s legal strategy, representatives of pro-life organizations met with DuPageCounty State’s Attorney Joseph Birkett in the spring of 2005 to ask him to petition the Illinois Supreme Court to adopt the rules required by the 1995 Act. Birkett agreed and filed his petition in June 2006.

On September 7, 2006, the Thomas More Society, representing a range of interested organizations, filed a supplemental petition with the state supreme court. Less than two weeks later, the Illinois Supreme Court, under the leadership of Chief Justice Bob Thomas, unanimously adopted Supreme Court Rule 303A.

After various delays, Attorney General Lisa Madigan returned to federal court in March 2007 and petitioned Judge David Coar to lift the permanent injunction which had been issued eleven years earlier.

After Judge Coar denied the petition, the Thomas More Society intervened in the case on behalf of State’s Attorneys Stu Umholtz and Ed Deters to press an appeal against the injunction. That effort has led to the lifting of the injunction today.
[CHICAGO, Illinois, July 14, 2009, www.LifeSiteNews.com]