The Illinois legislative session ended on May 31 without bringing to vote a bill aimed at repealing the state’s parental notification requirement for minors seeking an abortion.
Earlier this year, House and Senate lawmakers introduced House Bill 1797 and Senate Bill 2091, in hopes of repealing the 1995 state law requiring girls under the age of 18 to notify their parents at least 48 hours prior to having an abortion. Exceptions to the law include minors who have been victims of physical or sexual abuse or neglect by an adult family member. Another exception is a “judicial bypass” which allows a minor to obtain a court waiver if she proves she is mature enough to make an abortion decision on her own — meaning she isn’t mature enough to vote but can decide to have a life-ending, life-altering procedure that comes with many physical and mental health risks.
The parental notification law also doesn’t apply if the minor is accompanied to the abortion by an adult family member. That could be a parent, grandparent, stepparent, or legal guardian — which would be a complete disservice to the girl if the person who brings her to the abortion is her abuser.
Neither bill made it to the floor in the House or Senate as they were stalled in committees, but there is a chance the bills could be brought back during a special session this summer on emergency legislation.
Live Action’s Aiding Abusers investigation shone a light on exactly why parental notification laws for abortion are necessary. Undercover video shows abortion workers aiding undercover investigators posing as sex traffickers. Abortion staff advised these “sexual abusers” on how to secure abortions for underage girls and skirt mandatory reporting laws. A Planned Parenthood worker in Bronx, New York told the undercover investigators that in order to make it appear as if they were the girls’ guardians they could “say that you just take care of them, you support them.”
In addition to the investigation by Live Action, women have come forward to share their personal stories of how parental notification laws could have helped them. Mary Jean Doe, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, was abused by an older brother and a college-aged friend when she was 12 years old. Fearing she might be pregnant, she finally told her Sunday school teacher about the abuse and that teacher told her to have her brother take her to Planned Parenthood and not tell her parents — and he did.
“The whole visit was terrifying,” Doe said. “No one explained anything. I was examined, gave urine and blood samples, and [was shown] a chart of an egg going around a big circle marked by days of the month. I was asked questions like, ‘frequency of intercourse?’ and ‘method of birth control preferred?’ I did not know what intercourse meant, so I just said ‘a lot’ and I had no idea what methods of birth control existed. No one asked who my ‘partner’ was; no one expressed any dismay, concern, or even interest that a 12-year-old girl needed a pregnancy test.”
Doe isn’t the first or last girl to be taken to Planned Parenthood by her abuser. Denise Fairbanks was being abused by her father beginning at age 13. When she was taken by him to Planned Parenthood at age 16 for an abortion, she told the staff that she was being abused but they did nothing to help her. They committed the abortion and sent her home with her abusive father who abused her for another year and a half. It wasn’t until Denise told her basketball coach about the abuse that her father was sent to jail. Denise later sued Planned Parenthood.
It’s a pro-life win that the Illinois bills failed to come to a vote because the law needs to remain in effect in order to protect girls. However, under the current Illinois parental notification law, abusive family members could be coercing girls into an abortion. More needs to be done to ensure that abortion facilities are reporting the pregnancies of underage girls as they are mandated to do, in order to catch sexual predators.
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