Home Christian News Legislators Seek to Repeal Parental Notification Law for Abortions in Illinois

Legislators Seek to Repeal Parental Notification Law for Abortions in Illinois

parental notification
In this May 7, 2019 photo, Illinois state Rep. Anna Moeller, D-Elgin, speaks to reporters at a news conference in in Springfield, Il. Moeller is sponsoring legislation to repeal a law requiring that their parents or guardians of minors seeking abortions be notified at least 48 hours in advance. (AP Photo by John O'Connor)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Alarmed and at the same time energized by a Texas law that bans most abortions, abortion-rights advocates in the General Assembly are targeting what people on both sides of the contentious issue consider the last restriction on access to abortion in Illinois.

Democrats in the House and Senate are pushing to repeal a law requiring that a parent or guardian be notified at least 48 hours in advance when a minor 17 or younger seeks an abortion. Consent is not required as it is in nearly half the states.

To parental-notice supporters, it’s a “commonsense” approach to ensuring that families are involved in a minor’s health care and even identify children in abusive situations who need additional help. Opponents say it serves no purpose but to delay a minor’s constitutional right to choose their health care, a disruption that could have adverse effects.

Repeal has a sudden sense of urgency among proponents. The Texas law prohibits most abortions after a cardiac activity is detected — at about six weeks. And the U.S. Supreme Court will hear in December a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks.

“There is another dimension to this now…,” said Rep. Anna Moeller, an Elgin Democrat and the repeal’s House sponsor. “I expect Texas-style laws will be coming to states near us. We’re already surrounded by states that have very strict abortion-access laws. It will be this race to the bottom: Who can be the toughest on abortion until the Supreme Court weighs in?”

Moeller said she’s talking to colleagues, counting votes and trying to persuade moderate Democrats. Democratic Sen. Elgie Sims of Chicago has similar legislation in the Senate, but he did not respond to a message seeking comment. If they can collect the votes, they’ve got an ally ready to sign the law.

“I’m in favor of repealing PNA,” Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker said last week. “I don’t know whether the Legislature will bring this up over the two weeks of veto session, but I have stood in favor of it since I was elected.”

The 1995 law, adopted during the only legislative session in the past half-century that Republicans controlled both the House and Senate and the governor’s office, did not take effect until 2013, after years of judicial challenges by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Since then, the number of abortions among minors has dropped 38%, to 1,092 in 2018, while abortions overall among Illinois residents remained steady, according to Illinois Department of Public Health statistics. The numbers in both categories have plummeted since the mid-90s; overall, sinking 25% from a high of 49,131 in 1996 while abortions among minors hit a high of 4,853 in 1995 and a low of 1,003 in 2017, a drop of 79%.

“It’s a very commonsense law that actually transcends the abortion issue,” said Amy Gehrke, executive director of Illinois Right to Life. “This has to do with the basic right of parents to be involved in their children’s health care decisions. Here in Illinois … minor girls can’t get their ears pierced, they can’t get a tattoo, they can’t go to a tanning bed, they can’t go on a school field trip, they can’t even get an aspirin from the school nurse without their parents’ explicit consent.”

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joconner@outreach.com'
John O'Connor is a political writer for the Associated Press.