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Court Blocks Implementation of Illinois Parental Notification Law

The Illinois Medical Disciplinary Board decided Wednesday that a state parental notification law should go into effect. Briefly thereafter, Judge Daniel Riley granted a temporary restraining order blocking implementation of the law, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The order was granted as a result of a lawsuit filed in October by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois on the behalf of the Hope Clinic for Women and Dr. Allison Cowett. This suit challenged the law’s constitutionality and stated that “the Act severely restricts minors’ access to abortion by requiring a physician to notify a parent, grandparent, step-parent living in the household, or legal guardian of a minor’s intention to terminate her pregnancy and wait at least 48 hours before performing the abortion.”

The law in question mandated that physicians notify a young woman’s parents at least 48 hours before performing abortions on women 17 or younger. Illinois law does not require that parents consent regarding the abortion, only their notification prior to the procedure.

Colleen Connell, Executive Director of ACLU Illinois, said in a statement (see video, “This victory protects vulnerable Illinois teens from the unbelievable harm of compelled parental notice or a judicial bypass proceeding that risks their confidentiality and their privacy. We are so delighted with this decision and although this case is a long way from being over, at least for the moment, Illinois teens have unrestricted access to take the steps they need to protect their reproductive autonomy.”

The law originally passed in 1984 and was updated in 1995, but has been held up for years by legal challenges. A Chicago federal appeals court ruled in July that the law is constitutional. In its decision, the court described the law as “a permissible attempt to help a young woman make an informed choice about whether to have an abortion”. The law was to go into effect on November 3rd. The anti-choice Thomas More Society filed a lawsuit in September with the Illinois Supreme Court that sought immediate enforcement of the law, but this request was not granted.

Sources:

Feminist Daily Newswire 10/19/09; Statement of Colleen Connell 11/4/09; Chicago Tribune 11/5/09