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Illinois Democratic lawmakers repeal parental notification of abortion law, send bill to Pritzker’s desk

The new proposal repeals the law and creates a new working group to help review legislation that impacts pregnant minors. That group could also help young girls who may become pregnant
Illinois Democratic lawmakers repeal parental notification of abortion law, send bill to...
Illinois Democratic lawmakers repeal parental notification of abortion law, send bill to Pritzker’s desk(Mike Miletich, Gray TV Illinois Capitol Bureau Chief)
Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 6:30 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Gray TV) - State Democratic lawmakers have passed a plan out of both chambers to repeal the Parental Notification of Abortion law.

The Illinois House approved the Youth Health and Safety Act late Wednesday night. This plan now heads to Gov. JB Pritzker’s desk for final approval.

House Democrats passed this plan on a 62-51-3 vote. Two members did not vote. Senators approved the repeal effort on a 32-22 vote Tuesday night.

The current law requires doctors to contact an adult at least 48 hours before minors seek an abortion. However, this 1995 parental notification of abortion, or PNA, legislation faced a lengthy court battle. In fact, the legislation didn’t take effect until 2013.

The new proposal repeals the law and creates a new working group to help review legislation that impacts pregnant minors. That group could also help young girls who may become pregnant.

Demanding the right for parents to know

Still, Republicans call it another attack on parental rights. Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville) said parents deserve to know what is happening in their minor child’s life.

“All I’m asking for you is to be consistent. Be consistent with the votes after votes that you’ve taken that have allowed parents basic knowledge and involvement in their minor children’s life. That’s all,” Bourne said through tears. “As much as you want to write a big political statement about what you did to support women, voting for this is failing girls. And it’s failing good parents.”

Sponsors say some young girls have situations where it is unsafe or dangerous to tell their families about their intent to have an abortion. However, girls who do not have a good relationship with their parents or guardians go before a judge to ask for approval through a judicial bypass.

Lead sponsor Anna Moeller (R-Elgin) called Republican talking points misleading and hyperbolic.

“We trust women in Illinois. We support the most vulnerable in our state,” Moeller said. “This law is dangerous. It’s harmful. It’s harming young people in the state.”

Illinois Democratic lawmakers repeal parental notification of abortion law, send bill to...
Illinois Democratic lawmakers repeal parental notification of abortion law, send bill to Pritzker’s desk(Mike Miletich, Gray TV Illinois Capitol Bureau Chief)

Democrats want to help the most vulnerable girls

Experts note that only happens for 5-10% of young girls hoping to get abortions in Illinois. Emily Werth, staff attorney for the ACLU of Illinois, stressed that 90% of young girls already let their parents know.

“They don’t need a law to force them to do that,” Werth said. “They do that because that’s right for them and right for their particular circumstances. It’s actually quite right that we focus on the 5-10% who are the ones who are even impacted by and harmed by the existence of this law.”

Many Republicans wonder why Democrats want to repeal the law instead of making a minor change to help girls in those situations.

Rep. Chris Bos (R-Lake Zurich) said he has personally seen parental notification save lives. The Republican works as an advocate against sex trafficking. He asked representatives to stand with victims and not put them at risk.

“If this passes, you will be allowing those who victimize and abuse children not just here in Illinois, but from all over the US, to walk their victims into a clinic, force them to have an abortion, hide the evidence of their crime, and continue the cycle of violence. Do not further empower those pimps, those traffickers, those who rape, sexually abuse, and exploit these children for their own personal and selfish gains,” Bos said.

Closing the “loophole in our firewall”

Meanwhile, Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) called the PNA law a gaping hole in a theoretical firewall around Illinois “to protect reproductive health care and to protect access to this care.” Cassidy sponsored the 2019 Reproductive Health Act that solidified a women’s right to abortion in Illinois.

She noted that states across the country are trying to take that access away from women. Even so, Cassidy said Illinois won’t let that happen.

“They literally want to just force us all to keep every pregnancy to term regardless of what’s happening, regardless of the risks to our lives. Illinois is different and it’s going to stay different,” Cassidy said. “And we’re going to finish the work today by closing the loophole in our firewall.”

Illinois Democratic lawmakers repeal parental notification of abortion law, send bill to...
Illinois Democratic lawmakers repeal parental notification of abortion law, send bill to Pritzker’s desk(Mike Miletich, Gray TV Illinois Capitol Bureau Chief)

Critical response of the repeal

Planned Parenthood of Illinois says all Illinoisans, regardless of age, now have the full legal autonomy to make decisions about what’s best for their bodies.

“This is an especially important step at a time when reproductive rights are under severe attack across the country,” said Jennifer Welch, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Illinois Action. “We are proud of our elected champions State Representative Anna Moeller and State Senator Elgie Sims who acknowledged the decades of research and experience that show how forced parental involvement laws harm young people and serve no valid purpose.”

The Catholic Conference of Illinois later denounced the legislature’s repeal of the law. They called this an “ignominious outcome” for people who supported and voted for the parental notification law.

“Repealing this law defies public support and is contrary to the legal and moral right of parents to care for their children,” they stated. “Today’s vote is and will be a tragedy for many families, young girls, and so many unborn children. We pray for the day when every human life may be cherished from conception to natural death.”

Pritzker previously announced he supported the repeal effort. Many expect him to sign it into law shortly after it arrives on his desk.

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