(VIDEO) Parental Notification in Illinois: Forcing Young Women Into Harm’s Way

While Illinois has a mandatory parental involvement law on
the books, it has long been enjoined. Thus, a young woman in Illinois who is capable of making her own
abortion decision can do so with the guidance of her health care provider and
other trusted adults. Young women are not forced to involve their parents when they
do not feel safe doing so. However, the
state is aggressively seeking to end that court protection for young women and
to enforce the Illinois Parental Notification of Abortion Act.

It is
imperative to put an end to the threat of parental notification in Illinois,
and to work to eliminate similar laws across the country.  

I have seen firsthand the harms that forced parental
involvement impose on young women. My
first clinic position in this field was as a counselor in Colorado before that
state adopted parental notification. Every
weekend I would counsel young women from the neighboring state of Utah, who had
lied to their parents, borrowed money, found often unreliable transportation, and
driven long hours on strange highways and interstates to get to our clinic. It
was not unusual to arrive at the clinic and find the young woman and the person
who had traveled with her sleeping in a car.

They certainly didn’t have money for lodging and scarcely
enough for food. However, they so feared
for their safety and their future that they were willing to go to extreme
measures to avoid being forced to involve their parents in their unintended
pregnancy. These young women feared
being beaten or thrown out of their homes if their parents learned they were

Granted, there are young women who voluntarily tell their
parents; in fact, many young women come to our clinic with their mothers.
Unfortunately, however, not all teens live in this reality. For those who would
not otherwise tell a parent, these laws can impose irreversible physical and
psychological harms. The health and well being of these young women depends on putting an end to these dangerous laws.

In the following video, Lorie Chaiten of the ACLU discusses parental
notification laws in Illinois.

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  • prochoicegoth

    I agree with this article. I don’t think a teen should have to have permission to have an abortion. The pregnancy involves her body and hers alone. What if, like you mentioned, her parents are abusive? Or what if they force her to carry to term to “teach her a lesson”? We don’t accept it when others try to use pregnancies as punishments towards grown women, so why would we accept it done towards teenaged women?

    It’s pro-choice or
    NO choice.

  • faultroy

    In life one cannot have it both ways. The state cannot require parents to be legally responsible for teenagers and at the same time say that when a teen is pregnant it is her right to make her own decision. This is like the courts talking out of both sides of their mouth. Under the law, a teenager is considered a child incapable of giving informed consent–that is the legal definition. Well, if a child cannot give "informed consent," how can she make a decision as serious as abortion? The other issue is that we pass laws on statutory rape. If the courts feel that a minor can make "informed decisions," then they must carry that decision to issues of statutory rape. It is totally unethical to say that a child can give "informed consent" for abortion, but not "informed consent" for sex. No wonder people literally hate the ACLU and the Courts.

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