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Coalition Calls for the Illinois Supreme Court to Take Longstanding Parental Notification Law Out of Limbo

Illinois has Become Haven for Abortions Performed on Resident Minors as Well as Others Escaping or Evading Notice Requirements of Surrounding States


Contact: Tom Brejcha, Esq., Chief Counsel, Thomas More Society, 312-590-3408, 312-782-1680 cell; Paul Linton, Esq., Special Counsel, Thomas More Society, 847-291-3848; Thomas Ciesielka, TC Public Relations: 312-422-1333, tc@tcpr.net


CHICAGO, Sept. 12 /Christian Newswire/ -- In 1995, the Illinois legislature passed a law that a parent or guardian (or grandparent or step parent residing in the same household) must be notified 48 hours before a child under 18 has an abortion. However, the Illinois Supreme Court has refused to write rules that the law requires for an appeals process.  Therefore, the law cannot go into effect.  The Illinois Supreme Court is the only state Supreme Court in the country that has refused to issue such appeal rules.


So now, the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, Pro-Life Law Center has submitted a petition to the Illinois Supreme Court on behalf of a coalition of pro-life, pro-family and religious groups, including the Catholic Conference of Illinois, Illinois Citizens for Life, and Concerned Women for America. The petition calls for the Court to put the parental notice law into effect.  The Society’s lawyers, Tom Brejcha and Paul Linton, submitted their “Supplemental Petition” (a shorter petition was filed last June by DuPage County State’s Attorney, Joseph Birkett) to Chief Justice Robert Thomas and fellow  Justices of the Illinois Supreme Court on behalf of  Illinois-based “Friends of the Court,” urging issuance of an appeal rule.


Illinois’ governor wants every child to have health care. Yet, the health and emotional well-being of thousands of girls are compromised if parents are not notified when their daughters consider an abortion,” said Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel with the Thomas More Society. “Incredibly, we live in a state where parental consent is required before aspirins are dispensed, but parents are left in the dark when their child undergoes serious surgery. Chicago protects goose livers (banning foie gras!) while loving parents are denied the chance to talk with daughters over whether to have an abortion – a choice fraught with lifelong consequences.”


The coalition is asking that the Illinois Supreme Court write a new appeal rule to allow the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act (“the Act”) of 1995 to go into effect.  Indeed, it would become effective over a decade after it was signed into law by Governor Jim Edgar on June 1, 1995.  A federal district court “permanently enjoined” the Act on February 9, 1996, after the Illinois Supreme Court refused a request from the Illinois General Assembly to issue a rule for “expedited confidential appeal[s]” for minors or incompetent persons who were denied waivers of parental notice in “judicial bypass hearings” before a Circuit Judge. 


The coalition Thomas More Society represents includes: Illinois Citizens for Life, Illinois Federation for Right to Life, the Illinois Right to Life Committee, the Illinois Family Institute, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum of Illinois, Orthodox Christians for Life-Chicago, Lutherans for Life, Concerned Christian Americans, and the Catholic Conference of Illinois.


From 1995-2004 (the last year with available statistics), almost 40,000 abortions were performed on Illinois minors. Yet, as a direct result of the Illinois Supreme Court’s refusal to issue the judicial bypass rule(s) to implement the Act, a minor did not have to notify either of her parents (or an adult family member residing in her household) of her intent to have an abortion.  Illinois is the only Midwest state without a parental notice or consent law in effect, and so, over the same period, thousands more abortions were performed in Illinois on non-resident minors, who were allowed to escape or even evade their own States’ parental notice or consent laws.


A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision, authored by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, reaffirmed earlier this year that, “States unquestionably have the right to require parental involvement when a minor considers terminating her pregnancy, because of their strong and legitimate interest in the welfare of [their] young citizens, whose immaturity, inexperience, and lack of judgment may sometimes impair their ability to exercise their rights wisely.”