Illinois Abortion Law is Dangerous for Youth

(Chicago, March 11, 2021) – An Illinois law that requires a young person seeking an abortion to involve an adult family member is dangerous for youth in the state, violates their human rights, and threatens their health and safety, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois said in a report released today. The Illinois General Assembly should repeal the law, the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act, as a matter of urgency according to the report.

Under the Parental Notice of Abortion Act, a doctor providing care to a young person under age 18 seeking an abortion in Illinois must notify a designated adult family member – a parent, grandparent, step-parent living in the home, or legal guardian – at least 48 hours beforehand. If there is a reason that the young person is not able to have one of these family members notified, the young person can go to court and ask a judge for permission to have the procedure without this forced family involvement, in a process known as “judicial bypass.”

Transcript

Chicago, Illinois

Dr. Amber Truehart, OB-GYN
A few months ago, I was talking to a 17-year-old young lady over the phone about her seeking abortion care. 

And during that conversation, she shared with me that she was in a very complicated situation and was actually in the foster care system. 

I was discussing the need for parental notification and she seemed very

Dr. Amber Truehart, OB-GYN
overwhelmed by this entire idea of who do you even tell when you don’t have any contact with either of your parents. 

Illinois’ Parental Notice of Abortion Act [PNA] requires a healthcare provider to notify an “adult family member” of any patient under 18, 48 hours in advance of providing an abortion. The adult can only be a parent, grandparent, stepparent who lives with the young person, or a legal guardian. 

If a young person is unable or unwilling to notify a parent, they can ask a judge to waive the notice requirement trough the “judicial bypass” process. 

Circuit Court of Cook County
Chicago, Illinois

This process can be very stressful, and puts the confidentiality and safety of the young person at risk. 

Dr. Amber Truehart, OB-GYN
The young lady that was trying to schedule an abortion, she was crying when she heard what the process meant because I think she was kind of dealing within her head and she even expressed to me, that this isn’t going to happen. If I have to do all of these things and do all these, you know, make these other phone calls, contact these other people, it’s not going to happen. 

The majority of young people in the US do talk to a parent or another trusted adult when seeking abortion care, even when the law doesn’t require it. However, those who choose not to involve their parents often fear negative consequences. 

Leah Bruno, Attorney
I have spoken with women who have, you know, any number of concerns and those concerns can range all the way through to something that could result in them being kicked out of their home and irreparably damaging their relationship. 

Hannah, Youth Organizer, ICAH
She was a 17-year-old senior in high school, and working approximately 20 hours a week, when she learned she was pregnant. After talking with her older sister, she concluded abortion was the best decision for her. She saw how her mother previously kicked her older sister out of the house and was afraid the same would happen to her. 

Cat, Youth Organizer, ICAH
She was a 17-year-old high school graduate and she was preparing to start college. 

Cat, Youth Organizer, ICAH
When she discovered she was pregnant, she decided to have an abortion, but knew she couldn’t tell her parents. When her father had learned she was sexually active, he hit her and grounded her for months. 

Judge Susan Fox Gillis, Retired Judge
Without question, the women who appeared before me were very well-informed. They had significant maturity. 

Judge Susan Fox Gillis, Retired Judge
They were able to give me reasons why they felt it was imperative that they have an abortion. By coming into court, it was a risky thing. In Cook County, 

Circuit Court of Cook County, Chicago, Illinois
it was hard to get there. The bypass process, in my opinion, was just another stumbling block for these women to go through. 

VO
Young people who cannot navigate judicial bypass may be forced to continue unwanted pregnancies or involve unsupportive or abusive parents. The PNA law violates the human rights of young people under 18 and undermines their safety, health, and dignity. 

ICAH Youth Organizers
Legislators, can’t you see? PNA is misery. 

Illinois legislators should affirm the human rights and dignity of young people under 18, by voting to repeal the Parental Notice of Abortion Act [PNA] as a matter of urgency. 

#RepealPNA

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