Illinois appeals court orders lower court to rule on abortion notification law

[JURIST] The Illinois Appellate Court [official website] on Friday ordered [opinion, PDF] a circuit court to determine whether a law requiring a girl's guardians to be notified before she has an abortion should be enforced. The Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995 [text], which has never been enforced [AP report], mandates that doctors notify the guardians of girls younger than 18 years old 48 hours before the girl gets an abortion. Girls can request a court order from a judge to circumvent the notification requirement. The decision reverses a lower court ruling lifting the injunction on the enforcement of the law. The Thomas More Society [advocacy website], a supporter of the law, expressed discontent with the appeal court's decision:

We strongly disagree with the Illinois Appellate Court's decision to send this back to the trial court without deciding the legal issues involved. This decision is flawed in so many respects that further trial proceedings would be pointless. Only a prompt review by the Illinois Supreme Court can correct the injustice of this law languishing in legal limbo.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website], representing the plaintiffs, praised the appeal court decision. Lorie Chaiten, director of the ACLU of Illinois Reproductive Rights Projects said the law is harmful [press release] and that "young women who do not tell their parents about their pregnancy or desire to have an abortion, have good reasons, including fear for their personal safety."

An Illinois Cook County Circuit Court [official website] judge ruled [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] in May 2010 that the law is constitutional and lifted the temporary restraining order [JURIST report] on the law's enforcement. Judge Daniel Riley, however, approved a 60-day grace period, preventing state officials from enforcing the law pending appeal procedures. Riley granted the temporary restraining order [JURIST report] in November 2010, only hours after the Illinois Medical Disciplinary Board ruled to begin enforcing the law. The order was originally sought by the ACLU-IL in support of a suit brought by a local medical doctor and a women's clinic on behalf of themselves and their minor patients. ACLU-IL alleged that enforcement of the law would cause major harm and compromise the privacy of some Illinois teen-aged women. The Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Regulation (DFPR) [official website] granted doctors a 90-day grace period [JURIST report] for enforcement of the parental notification requirement, following a ruling [JURIST report] by the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] that reversed a district court injunction [JURIST report] barring the law's enforcement. The 1995 law, which has never been enforced, authorizes state judges to waive the notice requirement if doing so would be in a minor's best interest, but otherwise requires parental notification for minors seeking an abortion.

 

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