Illinois Judge Issues Temporary Restraining Order on Enforcement of Parental Notification Law


Associated Press reports that an Illinois judge has issued a temporary restraining order delaying
enforcement of a law requiring doctors to notify parents of teens who
are seeking an abortion.  The order was issued in response to a request by the American Civil Liberties Union, and is to remain in effect until the
judge can hear arguments on why the law should not be put into effect.

"What we’re focused on now is protecting the health and well being
of young women across the state of Illinois," ACLU spokesman Ed Yohnka told AP.

As reported here on Tuesday, the law was set to go into effect Wednesday, after an earlier decision had lifted a restraining order on the law in place since 1995.  The state’s Medical Disciplinary Board met Wednesday and voted not to extend
a 90-day grace period originally put into place in August and intended to examine the best means of ensuring that judicial bypass mechanisms could be put in place. 

The
law requires doctors to notify the parents or guardians of girls 17 or
younger 48 hours before the teens get abortions. It requires no notice
in a medical emergency or in cases of sexual abuse, and a provision
allows girls to bypass parental notification by going to a judge.

Peter
Breen, executive director of the Chicago-based Thomas Moore Society
Pro-Life Law Center, said the group was at first "heartened" by the medical board’s
decision.  "It’s about parents and kids talking," Breen said. "No one should be against this."

But most experts argue that teens who can talk to and have a good relationship with their parents will share this information willingly, whereas those who fear retribution, ostracism or physical or emotional abuse from their parents, and those whose pregnancies may be the result of incest are the ones who most need confidentiality in seeking servics.

For example, Planned
Parenthood of Illinois has been providing notification since August,
spokeswoman Beth Kanter told AP. If a teen said she wasn’t comfortable
letting a parent or guardian know, Planned Parenthood has been
referring her to another health care provider who was using the grace
period, Kanter said.

"We believe
that government cannot and should not mandate this communication,"
Kanter said. "Most teens do seek their parents’ advice and counsel …
but in some cases safe and open communication isn’t possible."

Court hearings for ACLU’s arguments against enforcing the law are pending.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Follow Jodi Jacobson on twitter: @jljacobson