"A victory for Illinois parents and children"
Overshadowed by the Senate hearings on pro-choice Sonia Sotomayor's suitability to be a Supreme Court justice, a U.S. appeals court in Chicago on Tuesday gave new life to a long-dormant law that requires Illinois parents be notified when their minor daughter seeks an abortion.
The three-judge federal appeals panel lifted a permanent injunction imposed by federal district judge David Coar that had been the latest in a series of continuing roadblock to enforcing the parental notification law passed in 1995.
The Illinois legislature originally passed a similar parental notification law in 1984, a decade after the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade and its companion case Doe v. Bolton legalized abortion for virtually any reason. That law was struck down by a court and the 1995 revision
sought to remedy those objections.
Even though parental notification laws have been upheld as
constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, pro-choice activists have
sought to throw one wrench after another into the enforcement of the
law. Abetting opponents of parental notification was the Illinois
Supreme Court, which refused for a decade to issue regulations that
would have defined how a minor could go to a judge to bypass the parent
notification requirement, thus stymieing enforcement of the law for a
Despite overwhelming public support for parental notification--about
70 percent favor it--the abortion industry and its allies doggedly
fought the requirement. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Cook
County State's Attorney Anita Alverez were in their official capacities
the defendents in the case. (The attorney general routinely defends
legal challenges to state law, but in this case Madigan decided to
Many opponents of parental notification have argued that it imposes an
unconstitutional burden, even though it involves a child. In prior
cases, courts have held the countrary, that the state, while it has an
interest in protecting a woman's right to choose, also has an important
interest in the welfare of its children that justifies regulation of
abortions performed on minors.
The law's opponents have not at this moment said they would appeal to
the U.S. Supreme Court (how would a justice Sonia Sototmayor rule?),
but they reaffirmed their disdain of parental notification. (Notice
that the law does not require parental permission for an abortion to
be performed on their daughter. It's only notification, but for some
rigid pro-choicers, that's even too much.) Lorie Chaiten, Reproductive
Rights Project Director for the ACLU of Illinois, said in a statement
that parental notification remains an "unnecessary" and "dangerous"
requirement. Such a law is not needed, she said, because abortion
providers have found that a pregnant girl usually notifies her parents
or a "trusted adult family member" anyway.
But the Thomas Moore Society, which helped defend the law, called the
decision a victory for Illinois parents and their children. Peter
Breen, the group's Executive Director and Legal Counsel, said,
"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