And if Planned Parenthood has its way, it'll stay that way.
This is ridiculous. Fifteen years ago, the Illinois Legislature passed a law requiring a girl--a minor--planning an abortion to notify her parents. Every state surrounding Illinois has such a law, but since 1995 when it was passed, the abortion industry has successfully fought to keep the law in Illinois from being implemented.
It's a long story, but the longest delay--about a decade--resulted because a partisan Illinois Supreme Court neglected (refused?) to issue regulations for how the law should be implemented. Apparently, even the supremes became embarrassed by this nonfeasance. But when they finally issued the regulations almost four years ago, the American Civil Liberties Union and the rest of the abortion industry continued to drag out the fight in the courts.
Each decision, however, went against the abortion industry: Courts have ruled that the law meets all constitutional tests and that it does not violate the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortions. The latest decision came on March 29, when Cook County Circuit Judge Daniel A. Riley ruled against the ACLU's creative (and silly) argument that the law discriminated against pregnant girls who chose to terminate their pregnancies. Judge Riley determined that the ACLU's argument "cannot prevail in their quest to have this act declared unconstitutional on its face."
In other words, he threw out the ACLU case. Theoretically, he could have withdrawn his temporary restraining order that held up the law's implementation until he issued his opinion.
But now comes the rub: Arguing in support of the law, as it is required to, is the office of pro-choice Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Pro-choice that Madigan is, one can assume that she and her campaign contributors in the abortion industry are not anxious to see the law enforced.
One can reach that conclusion by the actions of Asst. Atty. Gen. Thomas Ioppolo, representing Madigan's office in the hearing before Judge Riley. His side won. The winner usually can be counted on in such cases to argue that the restraining order should be lifted. It didn't happen.
Judge Riley, in handing down his decision, said he would keep the restraining order in effect for 60 days to allow the losers to appeal his order and seek a further stay from the appellate court.
Harvey Grossman, representing the ACLU, then approached the bench and asked that the stay be continued until the appellate court actually resolves the issue. Instead of saying that 15 years is long enough for the law to be adjudicated, Ioppolo responded according to the transcript: "We were prepared to give them a somewhat longer stay, Judge."
To that Judge Riley said, "Of course. If it's by the agreement of the parties, I will be happy to accommodate."
So, here's what happened: A law that has been on the books for 15 years--a law that represents the will of the people expressed through their elected represented--still has yet to be enforced. What happened in Judge Riley's courtroom would give the abortion industry more years to keep the law from being implemented, as the abortion industry appeals unfavorable decisions all the way up to the Illinois Supreme Court.
And it is nearly certain that they will lose all the appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that similar state laws requiring parental notification and even parental consent (which the Illinois law does not require) are constitutional. Judge Riley himself said it: the ACLU cannot prevail in its case. Reason would suggest that the law should be implemented now.
A side note: Judge Riley said he agreed with the ACLU's argument that the law is "a rather unfortunate piece of legislation. I find it unfortunate because it's--the evidence makes it clear that it's likely to cause more harm than any good."
But Riley was not there to decide the wisdom of the law as public policy; only it's legality. And when all is said and done, he found it legal.
I also find it not unfortunate, but wise. Public opinion polls repeatedly confirm that the majority of Americans think it is a good law. Enough American parents still think that they ought to know when a child makes such a momentous decision. Even if they cannot prevent it from happening. In comparison to other states, the Illinois version is a weak law. It allows for an expedited and confidential judicial by-pass in special cases of child abuse, emergencies and so forth, in which the parents (or one of several other specified adults) don't have to be notified.
The Supreme Court's rule-making weakened it even further. Under the rules, a child doesn't have to bother getting a judge's permission. All a minor has to do is declare in writing that they are victims of abuse or neglect by any adult family member; that a medical emergency exists, or when notice is waived in writing by one parent, grandparent or step-parent living in the home, or a legal guardian.
One understands the attempt to balance a child's rights against a parent's rights. Whether more harm than good is done by reinforcing a parent's ability to be supportive in the time of a child's crisis already has been resolved by the state legislature. But heeding the voice of the people through the legislature is not a route that the abortion industry has taken in its pursuit of its extreme goal of a right--if not an entitlement--to an abortion at any time, for any reason and at any age.
So, here's where it stands now: Two Downstate state's attorneys, Stewart Umholtz of Tazewll County and Edward Deters, of Effingham County, have sought to intervene and have the stay lifted. On their behalf, attorneys Thomas Brejcha and Peter Breen of the public interest law firm, the Thomas More Society, on Friday submitted a nine-page brief in support of lifting the stay. In it, they undergirded the argument that case law has made the chances of a successful appeal practically nil.
Most interesting and insightful was the brief's last paragraph:
Thus giving the imposing obstacles that the plaintiffs must overcome in order to prevail on the merits, the overwhelming weight of the equities against them, and the fact that out-of-state co-counsel (affiliated with national ACLU) have been involved in pressing this case from the inception, intervenors respectfullysubmit that what may really be driving this case is the prospect of reaping yet further delay in final implementation of the Parental Notice Act....That delay will preserve a substantial revenue stream that Illinois abortion providers have earning from performing abortion--without any parental notice or consent requirement--on out-of-state teens who evade (or whose abusers evade) their own state's laws. This factor, too, weights strongly in favor of vacating the court's stay....
Judge Riley now takes the brief under advisement and we will await his decision. If he continue his stay, I presume he'll have a good reason to make the citizens of Illinois wait 16, 17 even 20 years for enforcement of a law they support and their representatives enacted. And whether he will abet the abortion industry's strategy of having the courts decide a policy issue that should be in the hands of American citizens.
The Thomas More Society's website is here.