Analysis

Abortion advocates want to overturn the Illinois Parental Notification Law. Here’s why that’s a bad idea.

parental consent

Illinois is currently considering whether to repeal the last meaningful abortion restriction in the state. Abortion advocates are aggressively pushing for the repeal of the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act, which requires that when a minor girl seeks an abortion the provider “must notify a designated adult family member – a parent, grandparent, step-parent living in the home, or legal guardian – at least 48 hours beforehand.”

The text of the 1995 law makes a cogent case for parental notification, reading in part:

The General Assembly finds that notification of a family member as defined in this Act is in the best interest of an unemancipated minor, and the General Assembly’s purpose in enacting this parental notice law is to further and protect the best interests of an unemancipated minor.

The medical, emotional, and psychological consequences of abortion are sometimes serious and long-lasting, and immature minors often lack the ability to make fully informed choices that consider both the immediate and long-range consequences.

Parental consultation is usually in the best interest of the minor and is desirable since the capacity to become pregnant and the capacity for mature judgment concerning the wisdom of an abortion are not necessarily related.

Planned Parenthood in particular has a longstanding history of and vested interest in keeping parents out of the loop about the sex ed their own children are being taught, in which every kind of sexual behavior is normalized and presented as acceptable. In contrast, a former Planned Parenthood sex educator turned pro-life activist has noted that “only [parents] can give the best guidance” when it comes to teaching their kids about sex.

If girls are too immature to obtain judicial bypass, then should they be having abortions?

Those in favor of parental notification repeal object to the “intrusive questioning” pregnant teens are “forced to undergo” during the judicial bypass process, where teens who feel unsafe or otherwise object to notifying their parents of their abortion decision can petition a judge to waive the notification requirement. An article by Human Rights Watch claims, “The hearings can involve a lot of intrusive questioning about how the pregnancy happened, what abortion entails, what the side effects or risks could be, what birth control methods will be used. I mean, imagine someone of any age going before a judge and talking about your sex life or your birth control decisions and your understanding of abortion care, let alone someone who is young and facing all the stigma that exists around young people having sex. How distressing that must be.”

In framing minors as poor, pathetic children who may wilt under questioning by a judge, HRW unwittingly acknowledges the very reality that these girls are minors, not adults. In other circumstances, teen girls can’t even take a Tylenol at school or get their ears pierced without parental permission, not just notification.

HRW’s simultaneous insistence that teen girls be treated like adults fully capable of permitting the life of their own child to be violently ended, and yet also treated like children who are incapable of having mature conversations with a judge, is illogical.

READ: ACLU wants to destroy parental notification rather than provide support to troubled teens

Their objection to “intrusive questioning” certainly is understandable, though, given that there is a chance that a judge could discuss what abortion is and does to the child, and even what it could do to her as well. The gruesome reality of abortion is not something groups like HRW, Planned Parenthood, and other pro-abortion organizations are interested in discussing.

Abortion is treated differently than pregnancy-related health care because it isn’t pregnancy-related care

Another objection to the parental notification act complains that abortion is unfairly treated differently from other pregnancy-related care. Human Rights Watch notes, “In Illinois if you’re under 18 you can access contraception or STI testing, you can choose to continue a pregnancy, you can get prenatal care, you can make decisions about labor and delivery, you can give consent to have a cesarean section, and you can make the decision to place a child for adoption – all without any requirement to involve a parent or adult family member. Abortion is actually the only type of pregnancy-related health care that’s treated differently under Illinois law.”

But the reason abortion is treated differently from pregnancy-related health care is that it isn’t pregnancy-related care. Abortion is the permanent destruction of a defenseless preborn human being, the deliberate severing of the natural mother-child bond that grows over the course of a pregnancy and beyond. It can have long-lasting physical and emotional implications for the teenage mother.

The bottom line for abortion advocates in opposing the parental notification act comes down to money. The law has undeniably impacted abortion providers’ bottom line. According to one research article, teen girls who seek judicial bypass wait at least one week, on average, in order to obtain a ruling. That week can be plenty of time for a frightened girl to slow down, consider the weight of her plan, and potentially seek help from supportive resources. In terms of numbers, Illinois Right to Life previously reported that abortions on teen girls dropped by approximately 55% since the law, which was passed in 1995 but only took effect in 2013 due to litigation, went into effect.

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