Illinois Abortion Rights Groups Say Parental Notification Is Next

Jun 13, 2019

As Illinois abortion rights groups celebrated Wednesday's signing of the Reproductive Health Act, they’ve already got their eyes on what’s next: repealing a state law known as the Parental Notification Act.


At least one speaker at yesterday’s bill signing confirmed groups like the ACLU of Illinois and Planned Parenthood will lobby state lawmakers to overturn the notification law. It requires a minor to let her parents know within two days if she plans to have an abortion, and punishes doctors if they perform the procedure for someone who hasn’t complied.

Democrats filed a bill to repeal it, but never brought it up for debate. State Sen. Melinda Bush of Grayslake says the same thing happened to the new abortion law--until it passed.

“Both bills were stalled for a bit, including the RHA," she said, "until we saw what was happening across the country with ten states passing some of the most restrictive abortion laws, and really what we would deem as a war on women.”

Bush says the national move against abortion rights gives her side reason enough to attempt a repeal. That could happen as early as the fall veto session.

State Sen. Elgie Sims, meanwhile, is the sponsor of one of the repeal efforts. He wouldn't commit to bringing his measure back at any specific time.

"It takes time to get complex legislation, to inform everybody about what a piece of legislation is and what it's not," Sims said.

The Democrat from Chicago says a law like the Parental Notification Act is reasonable, but worries about cases of rape or incest. He says in those cases, a minor might be in "physical and/or emotional danger" if she informs her parents about having an abortion.

"We are attempting to make sure that the rights of women to choose is protected, and that includes the right of young women to choose.

Peter Breen is with the Roman Catholic legal group The Thomas More Society. He says the Parental Notification law and the new Reproductive Health Act are incompatible.

“We fully expect at Thomas More Society for a lawsuit to be filed to challenge the parental notice law under the RHA, and they’ve got the tools to do it," he said. "We’ll defend it strongly, and that’s really where we’re focused right now.”

At least 15 other states, including neighboring Iowa, require some form of parental notice if a minor seeks an abortion. 13 others, like California, don't require parents to be involved at all.