Illinois Parental Notification on Abortion Law Gets More Legal Support

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 19, 2010   |   2:21PM   |   Washington, DC

The parental notification on abortion law that pro-life groups have sought to put into effect for over 15 years is getting more legal help as two pro-life groups submitted legal papers backing it.

Yesterday, the Thomas More Society took another step toward the long-overdue enforcement of Illinois’ Parental Notice of Abortion Act by filing a “friend of the court” brief in the Illinois Appellate Court on behalf of a bipartisan group of Illinois state attorneys.

The brief urges the rejection of the American Civil Liberties Union’s latest attack on the pro-life laws constitutionality. The ACLU contends that the law violates the privacy, due process and equal protection guarantees in the Illinois Constitution of 1970.

Although the Illinois General Assembly enacted the current parental notice law on a bipartisan basis more than 15 years ago, the law has not gone into effect because of the ACLU’s federal and state court challenges. Though upheld by a Cook County judge, the law’s enforcement was still “stayed” by agreement of the ACLU and Attorney General, pending a final ruling on the ACLU’s appeal. The  ACLU filed the challenge in state court on behalf of the Hope Clinic for Women, an abortion business in Granite City outside St. Louis, and abortion practitioner Allison Cowett.

The foot-dragging by abortion advocates over allowing parents to know when their teen daughters are having an abortion has made it so Illinois is the Midwest’s only state without a parental notice or consent law in effect.

“We are thrilled that so many county prosecutors throughout Illinois support a parent’s right to know before a minor is taken for an abortion,” said Peter Breen, executive director and legal counsel at the Thomas More Society in a statement to “It’s long past time for Illinois to protect its daughters from ‘secret’ abortions by affirming the right of parents to be involved in their children’s medical decisions.”

Meanwhile, Americans United for Life also filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of eight Illinois legislators supporting the parental notification law and urging the First District appellate court to uphold the law.

“This group of Illinois lawmakers has taken an important stand on behalf of parental rights. When a child is considering a potential chemical or surgical abortion, the parents have a right to know,” AUL Staff Counsel Mailee R. Smith told “Parental involvement decreases both teen pregnancy and teen birth rates, and it is tragic that legal wrangling has prevented parental involvement in a situation where it is so essential.”

The ACLU appealed to the First District appellate court and claimed that there is “no justification” for the General Assembly’s action in enacting the law. In its brief, AUL refutes that claim, demonstrating that there are numerous studies revealing that parental involvement laws decrease both minor abortion and birth rates. AUL also details the plethora of studies demonstrating that abortion harms women- and especially minors- both physically and psychologically, and that parental involvement laws help shield minors from sexual exploitation.

The AUL amicus curiae brief was filed on behalf of Senators Tim Bivins (Dixon), William R. Haine (Alton), and Matt Murphy (Palatine), and Representatives Robert A. Biggins (Elmhurst), Robert W. Pritchard (Hinckley), David Reis (Sainte Marie), Jim Sacia (Pecatonica), and Jil Tracy (Quincy).

The Thomas More brief argues the Illinois Constitution does not confer a right to abortion and notes that the 1970 Constitutional Convention referred abortion issues to the legislature. It says numerous other federal and state courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have repeatedly upheld parental notice as constitutional. And it says the Illinois General Assembly properly found that parental consultation prior to an abortion promotes many legitimate state interests.

Thomas More Society special counsel Paul Benjamin Linton drafted the brief, which thirteen State’s Attorneys from across Illinois have joined.