clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Pritzker will be ‘proud to sign’ repeal of ‘harmful’ decades old law requiring parental notification of child’s abortion

Legislators in the state House voted to repeal the notification law late Wednesday, sending the measure to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk. Anti-abortion groups on Thursday denounced the move as “simply appalling”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs the Reproductive Health Act during a ceremony at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2019.
John L Alexander/Sun-Times file

Gov. J.B. Pritzker vowed late Thursday to sign a bill repealing what Democrats in the General Assembly call “the last anti-abortion law” in Illinois — a move Democrats say will protect some of the most vulnerable in the state.

“At a time when reproductive rights are under attack across the country, Illinois is protecting those critical reproductive rights,” the governor said in a written statement. “This repeal was essential, because it was the most vulnerable pregnant minors who were being hurt most by this law: victims of rape, incest and physical abuse.”

But the promised demise of the decades old law did nothing to end the debate over whether an adult family member should be told when a child gets an abortion.

Anti-abortion groups on Thursday denounced overturning the Parental Notice of Abortion Act as a “simply appalling” move by the Legislature, while abortion rights supporters depicted it as a step forward that allows “all Illinoisans, regardless of age,” to have “full legal autonomy to make decisions about what’s best for their bodies.”

Eric Scheidler, the executive director of Pro-Life Action League, said the repeal represents a “dark day for Illinois.”

“The General Assembly has ignored the rights of parents and the views of most Illinois voters to side with abortion clinics and sex traffickers to keep parents from knowing if their minor daughters get abortions,” Scheidler said in a statement.

He went on to say the repeal doesn’t “only set the stage for our daughters to be exploited,” but it also allows “abusers to bring girls to Illinois from throughout the Midwest for secret abortions.”

“Our task now is to educate parents on how to protect their daughters, now that the state government has let them down,” he said.

Legislators in the state House voted to repeal the notification law and pass the Youth Health and Safety Act late Wednesday, sending the measure to Pritzker’s desk.

Arguing that the repeal of “this harmful law” will “keep vulnerable young people safe,” the Democratic governor said late Thursday, “I’ll be proud to sign this legislation.”

The Parental Notice of Abortion Act originally became law in 1995, but it didn’t go into effect until 2013 due to legal challenges. It requires a doctor providing care to a young person under age 18 who is seeking an abortion to notify a designated adult family member at least 48 hours before the procedure.

Anti abortion protesters rally outside the State of Illinois Center in 1993.
Anti abortion protesters rally outside the State of Illinois Center in 1993.
Chicago Sun Times archives

During a lengthy debate Wednesday night, state Rep. Anna Moeller, D-Elgin, called the notification law “the last anti-abortion law that we have on our books” and said overturning it ensures “we are protecting our most vulnerable young people in Illinois.”

Republicans sought to cast the law as not about access to abortion but about parental rights. Overturning the measure, many argued, would be infringing on those rights.

State Rep. Anna Moeller speaks on the House floor late Wednesday night.
State Rep. Anna Moeller speaks on the House floor late Wednesday night.
Blue Room Stream

In an impassioned speech opposing the bill, state Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Morrisonville, said a vote for the repeal is not just “failing girls — it’s failing good parents.”

Similar arguments were made in the Senate during its Tuesday debate of the legislation, which it passed and sent to the House.

State Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Morrisonville, speaks on the House floor Wednesday night.
State Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Morrisonville, speaks on the House floor Wednesday night.
Blue Room Stream

State Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, said experts on human trafficking dispute anti-abortion activists’ claims that there is a link between trafficking and the lack of parental notification for abortion.

Earlier Thursday, Jennifer Welch, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Illinois Action, applauded the Legislature’s passage of the repeal, issuing a statement calling it “an especially important step at a time when reproductive rights are under severe attack across the country.”

An abortion rights demonstrator holds a sign at the Daley Plaza during a protest earlier this month.
An abortion rights demonstrator holds a sign at the Daley Plaza during a protest earlier this month.
Mark Capapas/AP file

“By passing the Youth Health and Safety Act, Illinois has ensured that young people can choose to involve the people they trust in their health care decisions and are protected from harmful domestic situations and unnecessary judicial interactions,” Welch said. “In short, all Illinoisans, regardless of age, now have the full legal autonomy to make decisions about what’s best for their bodies. We look forward to Governor Pritzker upholding his promise to sign this bill when it crosses his desk.”

But Amy Gehrke, the executive director of Illinois Right to Life, said in a statement “minor girls cannot get a body piercing, a tattoo, or even receive an aspirin without parental consent” in Illinois.

“Enabling children to have abortions without their parents’ involvement is simply appalling,” she said.

The Catholic Conference of Illinois also denounced the repeal, issuing a statement saying the vote “defies public support and is contrary to the legal and moral right of parents to care for their children.

The “vote is and will be a tragedy for many families, young girls and so many unborn children,” wrote the group, which serves as the public policy voice for the state’s bishops and the Catholic community. “We pray for the day when every human life may be cherished from conception to natural death.”