Monday afternoon, Thomas More Society attorneys Tom Brejcha and Peter
Breen were in Court on behalf of Illinois state's attorneys to oppose
the ACLU's latest attempt to overturn the Illinois Parental Notice of
Abortion Act - and to read an unlimited right to abortion into the Illinois Constitution. The ACLU is representing the plaintiff in the case, Hope Clinic v. Adams, with the Illinois Medical Disciplinary Board and the Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation as defendants.
The Parental Notice Act was ruled valid and constitutional by the federal courts earlier this year, and our own Illinois Supreme Court had previously instructed [PDF of letter] that "our state courts are prepared to proceed to apply the law as enacted."
TMS attorneys thought they would be joining the defendants to defend the Parental Notice Act. Instead, upon arriving in Court, the attorneys were handed a memo
[PDF of memo] saying that the Medical Board would now "review evidence"
on the constitutionality of the Act and intended to extend a "grace
period" against the enforcement of parental notice. (Of course, the
Medical Board does not have the authority to stop valid Illinois laws
from being enforced, but that hasn't stopped them thus far.)
That puts the Thomas More Society in an odd spot in this case - against both the plaintiffs, the ACLU, and the defendants, the Illinois government. They knew it was going to be a long day when the representative from Personal PAC
- the political arm of Illinois' abortion providers - warmly introduced
himself to the attorneys for the Medical Board (from the office of
Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan). Personal PAC sat right behind
these lawyers in Court.
At the hearing, the Medical Board's lawyers told the judge that it would be meeting on Wednesday morning
[PDF of agenda] at 9a.m. to consider the matter - to either lift the
(illegal) "grace period" or to continue it. So you might wonder, will
we finally be done on Wednesday morning? Will the 14-year wait for this
parental notice law - something 80% of Illinoisans support - be over?
medical administrative process is supposed to proceed in a two-step:
first, the Medical Board adopts a recommendation and, second, the
Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation approves the
recommendation, at which point the recommendation becomes effective.
Here's the problem: TMS has learned that one of the six members of the Board, Robert Fernandez, is a partner in the firm of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal in Chicago. That firm's lawyers serve as Outside General Counsel to Planned Parenthood of Illinois. (The Thomas More Society is up against Sonnenschein in the Scheidler v. Trombley defamation lawsuit, now pending in the Illinois Appellate Court.)
And, it gets worse. Brent Adams, Secretary of the Department of Professional Regulation and the lead defendant in this lawsuit, is on the Executive Committee for Personal PAC, the political arm of Illinois' abortion providers, and he has served on its Board of Directors since 1999. And, his resume [PDF] lists him as a past member of the Board of Directors of the ACLU of Illinois, the lawyers for the plaintiffs in this case.
Various groups are urging activity today.
Via email, some Churches have asked people of good will to "call the
Governor's office and urge him to instruct the Department to end the
delay and finally allow parental notification to go into effect in
Illinois. His number is 217-782-0244 in Springfield and 312-814-2121
This morning, the Chicago Tribune editorialized that, "This had better be a routine hearing. The legislature passed this law in 1995. Enough with the delays."
matter what, the Thomas More Society will be in Court on Wednesday
afternoon - if necessary, standing alone against the Illinois
government and the ACLU - to defend the Illinois Parental Notice of