Illinois Law for Parental Notification Before Abortion Finally in Effect, Court Rules

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 1, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Illinois Law for Parental Notification Before Abortion Finally in Effect, Court Rules

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 14
, 2009

Springfield, IL ( — In a huge victory for parents in Illinois, a federal appeals court has finally approved a state law allowing parental notification before an abortion to go into effect. The law will help parents help their minor children find better alternatives than abortion and will likely reduce the number of abortions in the state.

Today, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved the federal injunction against the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act.

As a result of the court’s decision in Zbaraz v. Hartigan, Illinois parents will be entitled, for the first time since Roe v. Wade in 1973, to receive notification before their minor daughters are taken for abortions.

The decision is the culmination of four years work by the Thomas More Society and pro-life attorney 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," Peter Breen, director of the Thomas More Society, told after the decision.

"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," he explained. "A wealth of social science data indicates that parental involvement laws lead to lower pregnancy rates, out-of-wedlock births and abortions."

The legislature approved the law in 1995 but it took more than a decade for the Illinois Supreme Court to finally issue rules that the law requires for an appeals process for minors who want an abortion without telling their parents.

Since that time, more than 50,000 Illinois teenagers have had abortions, including 4,000 who were 14 years-old or younger at the time of their abortion.

Following Linton’s legal strategy, representatives of pro-life organizations met with DuPage County 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 attorneys Stu Umholtz (Republican, Tazewell County) and Ed Deters (Democrat, Effingham County) to press an appeal against the injunction.

Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, previously talked with about the importance of the law.

"Polls show that up to 80 percent of Illinois citizens support parental notice for abortion, which is serious invasive surgery, and indeed parental consent is required by law before school nurses may even administer aspirin to minor students," Brejcha said.

"Illinois is the only Midwestern state where parental notice is not required and child predators routinely bring minors from other states here for abortions without their parents’ knowledge, let alone consent," he added. "It’s high time this anomalous, flagrant injustice was brought to an end."

Illinois has become a haven for abortions on teenagers in other states and was one of the reasons Congressional lawmakers put forward a bill that would stop adults from taking teenagers out of state for secret abortions.

In 1995, the Illinois legislature passed the law that a parent or guardian should be notified 48 hours in advance of an abortion on a minor teen.

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld states’ rights to require parental involvement in 2006 when it held hearings on a New Hampshire law.

“States unquestionably have the right to require parental involvement when a minor considers terminating her pregnancy," Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote.

Related web sites:
Thomas More Society Pro-Life Law Center –

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