Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday signed into law a measure to repeal a requirement that abortion providers notify the parents of minors seeking the procedure.
The move to repeal the 1995 Parental Notice of Abortion Act barely passed out of the Democratic-controlled state legislature during its fall session with some Democrats joining Republicans in opposition. The repeal passed in a 62-51 House vote and a 32-22 vote in the Senate.
Those who supported the repeal, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, have said the 1995 law did nothing to protect the most vulnerable young people — those living in unsafe and unstable households.
Pritzker’s signature came as the U.S. Supreme Court has given signals it intends to weaken abortion rights that have been in place since the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.
“With reproductive rights under attack across the nation, Illinois is once again establishing itself as a leader in ensuring access to health care services,” Pritzker said. “This repeal was essential, because it was the most vulnerable pregnant minors who were punished by this law: victims of rape and physical abuse in unsafe homes.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, which championed the legislation, noted that the measure includes the creation of a working group that will focus on educating young pregnant women and parents.
The group will help identify needs of those young people that include education, housing, employment, food access, and child care, the ACLU said.
As it stands now, the law allows minors seeking an abortion to ask a judge to waive the notification requirement if they fear for their safety. Since 2013, when the law went into effect after years of legal challenges, judges granted more than 99.5% of bypass requests in Illinois, according to the ACLU, which has argued the notification law serves no public policy purpose.
Abortion rights advocates have criticized the judicial proceedings for, among other things, forcing pregnant teens to share very personal, and potentially embarrassing, details about their sexual histories.
“We saw the harm caused by PNA firsthand while representing young people in courts all across Illinois,” Colleen Connell, ACLU of Illinois executive director, said in a statement. “We celebrate this measure — and the recognition by the State of Illinois that all people must have the ability to make their own reproductive health care decisions.”
The law was originally passed in the mid-1990s during a brief period when the General Assembly was controlled by Republicans.
Opponents of the repeal have argued that parents shouldn’t be kept in the dark about their children’s well-being, particularly when they decide to have an abortion. They’ve also tied it to larger concerns about parental rights.
One of the measure’s most outspoken opponents on Friday said Pritzker’s signing of the bill takes away a parent’s right to know about their child’s well-being and removes a layer of protection that could leave a minor more vulnerable to sexual abuse, exploitation and human trafficking.
“This significant change in our law is out of touch with a majority of Illinoisans and puts girls in Illinois — and across the Midwest — in danger,” Rep. Avery Bourne, a Republican from Morrisonville, who spoke out against the repeal proposal on the House floor during the fall session, said Friday in a statement.
“Parents deserve the right to know if their minor child is seeking any major medical procedure, especially one like an abortion where there can be serious short- and long-term consequences,” said Bourne, whose name has floated through GOP circles as a potential candidate for lieutenant governor in the 2022 election.
Illinois Right to Live Action, an anti-abortion group, also decried the new law.
“Minor girls in Illinois cannot get their ears pierced or even receive an aspirin at school without their parents’ consent,” the group said in a statement. “Now these same young girls can obtain an abortion, a serious medical procedure that takes the life of a preborn child and poses numerous medical and psychological risks, without their parents even knowing. This defies comprehension.”
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