CHICAGO (CBS / AP) – Illinois state lawmakers have approved legislation to repeal a 1995 law requiring parents or guardians to be notified when their child requests an abortion, sending the measure to Governor JB Pritzker, who has expressed support .
By a 62-51 vote late Wednesday night, the House approved a law that would repeal the requirement that a parent or guardian be notified at least 48 hours in advance when a minor 17 years of age or younger requests a abortion. The Illinois Senate approved the legislation Tuesday. The next step is to send the proposal to Pritzker, who has expressed support for the repeal of the 1995 Parental Notification Act.
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The pressure to repeal the parental consent requirement recently had a sudden sense of urgency among supporters. A new Texas law prohibits most abortions after heart activity is detected – at around six weeks. And the U.S. Supreme Court will hear in December a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks.
“There is another dimension to this now …” said Representative Anna Moeller, Democrat of Elgin and sponsor of the repeal law in the House. âI expect Texan-style laws to apply to states close to us. We are already surrounded by states that have very strict laws on access to abortion. It will be this race to the bottom: who can be toughest against abortion until the Supreme Court rules?
Moeller said earlier this month she was speaking to colleagues, tallying votes and trying to persuade moderate Democrats. Democratic Senator Elgie Sims of Chicago was behind the legislation in the Senate.
The 1995 law, passed in the only legislative session in the past half century in which Republicans controlled both the House and Senate and the governor’s office, did not come into effect until 2013, after years of legal challenges by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Since then, the number of underage abortions has fallen 38%, to 1,092 in 2018, while overall abortions among Illinois residents have remained stable, according to health department statistics. Illinois Public. Numbers in both categories have fallen since the mid-1990s; overall, down 25% from a peak of 49,131 in 1996, while underage abortions peaked at 4,853 in 1995 and trough 1,003 in 2017, a decrease of 79%.
âIt’s a very sensible law that actually transcends the issue of abortion,â said Amy Gehrke, executive director of Illinois Right to Life. âIt has to do with the fundamental right of parents to be involved in decisions about the health care of their children. Here in Illinois … underage girls can’t get their ears pierced, they can’t get a tattoo, they can’t go to a tanning bed, they can’t go on a school trip, they can’t even not get aspirin from the school nurse without the express consent of their parents.
Gehrke points out that many misinterpret Illinois law as requiring consent. It is simply a notification to a parent, grandparent or guardian. And it is the establishment that conducts the procedure, and not the minor, who must provide the opinion.
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Out of 38 states requiring parental involvement in the decision to abort a minor, 21 require parental consent – in three of them both parents must consent, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
If a girl is in a family situation where informing her parents or other family members could do her harm, she can go to a judge who will then decide if she is mature and emotionally healthy enough to decide for herself. same. This has happened 550 times since 2013, with a judge denying access to abortion once, according to Brigid Leahy, senior director of public policy for Planned Parenthood of Illinois.
Gehrke and other pro-notification activists argue that judicial circumvention allows a judge to identify minors who are abused or even victims of sex trafficking and provide them with the social services they need to get by. Their opponents argue that the judges are only there to decide the issue of abortion and have no implication in saving minors from betrayal.
Ed Yohnka, spokesperson for ACLU, whose Court Bypass Coordination Project is helping girls seek legal intervention, said lawyers for the project have never heard of a case where a child needs this type. rescue, but that the judges would intervene absolutely if necessary.
That’s reason enough to uphold the law, said Bob Gilligan, executive director of the Illinois Catholic Conference, which has been lobbying lawmakers to block the repeal since the end of the spring legislative session.
“If you limit this law, then what is there?” Gilligan asked. “Nothing. Is this good public policy?
The ACLU released a statement in support of the Senate vote on Tuesday evening:
âOver the past eight years, we have represented over 575 young people who have been forced by this law to go to court to seek legal circumvention because they knew they could not share their abortion decision. with one of the designated family members. Ending this barrier for Illinois youth is critical.
âWe are especially pleased that a majority of senators understood the argument that the ANP is not about abortion, but only parental ‘rights’. It is a mistake. After all, the law only requires that young people share their decision about an abortion, not the decision to become a parent or place a baby for adoption. It has always been about discouraging young people from accessing abortion care, and nothing else. “
Associated Press political writer John O’Connor contributed to this report.
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