In 1995, in an effort to stall the implementation of a law for the protection of minors from the horrors of abortion, the ACLU brought suit in Hope Clinic for Women v. Adams, challenging the constitutionality of a parental notice law.
Sadly, after 16 years of litigation, an Illinois appellate court agreed last week to further stall implementation of the law.
Ultimately, this law should be upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court because the law contains the judicial bypass provision that is necessary, under current law, for its constitutionality to be verified. In the meantime, the health and wellbeing of minors are at risk.
Young girls deserve the love and support of their families during the challenging time that surrounds the discovery of a pregnancy. Pregnant teens are scared, vulnerable, under pressure from peers and society, and they lack the maturity and the sense of responsibility necessary to make this serious decision on their own. Parental involvement is in the best interest of these pregnant teens.
Parents are in the position to protect minors form the physical and psychological harms of abortion, to offer support and perspective, and to council the young girl about the risky behavior that led to the pregnancy.
Parental involvement is necessary because abortion has greater physical and psychological risks to minors than to older women. Researchers have found that minors are two times more likely to get a surgical laceration during an abortion than older women. Similarly, minors are more likely to get post abortion infections.[ii] Researchers believe this greater susceptibility to physical risk comes from the fact the minor’s body is not fully developed. Minors also have a great risk of psychological damage resulting from abortion. Researchers found that a minor that aborts her baby has a 78.6 percent chance of developing major depression, as compared to a 35.7 percent chance of major depression for a minor that chooses to carry her child to term.[iii] The increased risk of physical and psychological harm that minors assume when they undergo an abortion is a good reason that they should not be making the decision to have an abortion on their own. This provides plenty of good reasons for the Illinois legislature to require parental involvement, but the Illinois courts, in rather flagrant disregard of relevant law, won’t let them.
Unfortunately, this action by the appellate court, stalling the implementation of Illinois’ parental notice law, is leaving minors alone to make one of the most serious decisions of their lives, a decision that will affect not only the life of their unborn child but the their own health and wellbeing.
i. K.F. Schultz et al., Measures to prevent cervical injury during suction curettage abortion, LANCET 1(8335):1182 (1993); R.T. Burkman et al., Morbidity risk among young adolescents undergoing elective abortion, CONTRACEPTION 30(2):99 (1984).
ii. R.T. Burkman et al., Culture and treatment results in endometritis following elective abortion, AM. J.OBSTET. GYNECOL. 128(5):556 (1997); W. Cates, Jr.,Teenagers and sexual risk-taking: The best of times and the worst of times, J. ADOLESC HEALTH 12(2):84 (1991); D. Avonts & P. Piot, Genital infections in women undergoing therapeutic abortion, EURO. J. OBSTET GYNECOL. & REPROD. BIO. 20(1):53 (1985).
iii. D.M. Fergusson et al., Abortion in Young Women and Subsequent Mental Health, J.CHILD PSYCHOL. & PSYCHIAT. 41(1):16 (2006).