State laws surrounding abortion change frequently. Illinois legislation is no different. In 2019, Governor Pritzker signed the Reproductive Health Act into law, establishing abortion as a “fundamental right.” With surrounding states increasing restrictions on abortion, Illinois has quickly become an “abortion hub.” Now, the last remaining barrier to abortion – the Parental Notification Act, has been submitted for repeal in state legislation. What is the Parental Notification Act? And what would a repeal mean for minors seeking an abortion?
What is the Parental Notification Act?
The Illinois Parental Notification Act requires that a parent or guardian be informed of a minor’s (17 or under) abortion 48 hours in advance. There are a few exceptions to this policy:
- If the minor is accompanied by the parent or guardian
- The notice is waived in writing by the person entitled to the notification
- The attending physician certifies that a medical emergency exists and there isn’t sufficient time to complete notification
- The minor declares in writing that she is a victim of sexual abuse, neglect, or physical abuse by an adult family member
This notification can also be waived by a judge.
Parental notification does not mean consent. Abortion facilities simply have to notify the proper parent or guardian in advance of the procedure. The parent or guardian does not have to agree to have the procedure performed.
Why is Parental Notification Important?
A Parent’s Involvement in a Pregnancy Decision
Whether someone is considering a medication abortion (the “abortion pill”) or surgery, abortion is a serious medical procedure. There are potential physical and emotional risks involved. The thought that a teenager could both sign up for an abortion and receive the procedure without a parent or legal guardian knowing is frightening. What if there are complications? What about potential long-term effects? It’s important that parents are both aware and involved in a decision surrounding abortion.
Potential Abuse or Coercion Situations
Parental Notification is especially important in situations of abuse or coercion. It can help alert parents and abortion facilities to abusive, illegal, or unhealthy situations. As Mary Hallan FioRito stated in her Chicago Sun-Times editorial, “When abortion clinic staff are required to notify a parent or guardian, they can help ensure that the minor is not being coerced into having the abortion by a trafficker, an older male partner who would fall within the statutory rape definition, or an abusive family member. Keeping the Parental Notification Act in place helps protect minors from those who wish to do them harm.
Repealing the Parental Notification Act by HB1797
Abortion is serious. It carries risks with it that a teenager may not fully be able to process or recognize. Having a parent or legal guardian aware of a minor’s pregnancy and potential abortion seems like the least we can do to protect teenage girls. If you’d like to stand against the repeal of Illinois’ Parental Notification Act, reach out to your state legislator to vote “no” to HB1797.
Caring Network Illinois serves teens and women of all ages who are facing an unplanned pregnancy. Through the services provided at our six pregnancy centers, women are given hope for the future and empowered to consider alternatives to abortion. Regardless of age, background, or status, we serve women with compassion and care – reflecting the love of Christ. Join with us in the work of eliminating the suffering from and desire for abortion in Illinois. Learn more today.