Note Breaking News : The Associated Press reported yesterday evening that an Illinois judge has put a restraining order on the law at the behest of the ACLU, further delaying the implementation of the law until such a time as the judge can hear arguments from the ACLU over their opposition to the law. More info will follow as this unexpected development unfolds.
After enduring a protracted legal battle spanning fifteen years, the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act has finally gone into full effect [yesterday] without further delay.
The Illinois Medical Disciplinary Board and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Wednesday morning decided to enforce without further delay the pro-life law, which requires that one parent or legal guardian must be notified 48 hours in advance when a minor aged seventeen or younger seeks an abortion.
"This is a great victory for Illinois families. Girls that face an unwanted pregnancy will be guaranteed access to the most important pregnancy crisis counselors: their parents," said Tom Brejcha, President and Chief Counsel, Chicago-based Thomas More Society in a statement. "We’ve fought this legal battle so that Illinois would join with the majority of the people in the nation who value parental rights and the well-being of their children."
The Thomas More Society (TMS), a Chicago-based public interest firm, litigated for well over a decade for the enforcement of the law, which remained in legal limbo because the state Supreme Court refused to issue rules – mandated by the law – regarding an appeals process for minors requesting a "bypass hearing." The rules finally were issued three years ago, when a reconstituted Court finally issued the rules.
However litigation dragged on, since the American Civil Liberties Union then intervened, arguing that the parental notification law was unconstitutional.
The litigation finally saw its efforts pay off when the Seventh US Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the parental notification law on July 14. TMS Chief Counsel Thomas Brejcha argued against the ACLU before the federal court, saying that the law was necessary to safeguard minors and put a stop to cycles of sexual abuse by sexual predators, who coerce them into having abortions without telling their parents in order to cover up their crimes.
The federal appeals court ruling affirmed the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision to implement a rule that provided for minors in extraordinary cases to have expedited and confidential "bypass hearing" appeals. A few weeks later, when the Circuit Court issued its mandate, the Parental Notice of Abortion Act became fully effective and enforceable for the first time since 1995.
However, the Illinois Medical Disciplinary Board, which has responsibility for enforcing the Parental Notice Act against physicians who willfully violate the law, had further delayed implementation of the law, by recommending that the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation suspend enforcement of the law for ninety days, beginning on August 5, 2009.
But this morning’s decision by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation brings further delays in implementing the parental notification law to an end.
Since the passage of the Parental Notice of Abortion Act in 1995, over 50,000 Illinois girls below the age of majority have obtained abortions, more than 4,000 of whom were 14 years old or younger, without any requirement to notify their parents beforehand.
Illinois now joins 36 other states enforcing similar parental notification laws.