IL: Attorney General Moves to Enforce Parental Notification Law

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) has asked the federal courts to allow enforcement of a parental notification bill that was enjoined shortly after it was signed into law in 1995. The Parental Notice of Abortion Act requires physicians to notify a patient’s adult family member 48 hours before performing an abortion on an unmarried minor or an “incompetent person.” The requirement can be waived if the physician determines that the case is a medical emergency or if the patient obtains a judicial bypass. The law has remained unenforceable since 1995 when the Illinois Supreme Court refused to issue rules for obtaining a judicial bypass, and a federal court ruled that the law could not go into effect without such rules.

On September 20, 2006, however, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously adopted rules for the judicial bypass. On January 19, Madigan asked the district court to lift the injunction and allow the Act to be enforced as soon as possible.

Madigan, a supporter of women’s rights and reproductive freedom, announced that she is simply doing her job by asking the courts to enforce the act. “As the chief legal officer of the State of Illinois, it is my duty to uphold the Constitution and to defend the laws of this state if they are constitutional,” Madigan said. “At this point, 44 states have parental involvement laws, and courts have upheld many parental notice laws that are similar to the Act.”

Women’s rights groups, however, are troubled by the developments. Lorie Chaiten, director of the ACLU of Illinois Reproductive Rights project, said the Act “makes it very difficult for young women to access reproductive health services… This is the kind of law that every major medical organization, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, opposes,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
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Lisa Madigan statement and website 1/19/07; Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy 1/23/07; Associated Press 1/19/07

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