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Repeal of Parental Notice of Abortion Act advances in House committee

Repeal of Parental Notice of Abortion Act advances in House committee

By PETER HANCOCK
Capitol News Illinois
[email protected]

SPRINGFIELD – A House committee advanced a bill Wednesday that would repeal the state’s Parental Notice of Abortion Act, moving it one step closer to being sent to Gov. JB Pritzker, who has said he supports it.

The bill narrowly passed out of the Senate Tuesday night on a 32-22 vote, with three Democrats voting no and six Democrats not voting. All Republicans opposed it.

The law was originally passed in 1995 but did not take effect until 2013 due to litigation. It requires abortion providers to notify a parent or adult family member at least 48 hours in advance of performing the procedure on a patient under the age of 18.

It does not require the consent of a parent and it allows for a judicial bypass in cases of medical emergencies or if the minor declares in writing that she is a victim of sexual abuse, neglect or physical abuse by an adult family member.

Supporters of repealing the notice requirement said it deters many pregnant minors from seeking abortion services and could put them in danger if the parent who would be notified is their abuser.

They also argued that the judicial bypass provision is both intimidating and overly burdensome, especially since the onset of the pandemic, which forced many courts to stop holding in-person hearings.

Susan Fox Gillis, a retired Cook County circuit judge, told the House Executive Committee Wednesday that since the law was enacted, she and her colleagues in the court had heard “hundreds” of cases from minors seeking a judicial bypass.

“That law, in my experience as a judge tasked with deciding these waivers, is unnecessary, overly punitive, and it places burdens on young women seeking health care. It should be repealed,” she said. “Each of the young women who came before me had good reasons for not sharing her decision with a parent.”

Opponents of the bill, however, argued that the issue is not about a pregnant minor’s right to seek an abortion but rather the right of parents to be involved in their child’s health care decisions.

“No abortion clinic should be able to perform irreversible surgery on either of my daughters without telling me,” Mary Hallan FioRito, an attorney with the Catholic Women’s Forum, told the committee. “At a time when there is so much division in our state, in our country, the Parental Notice of Abortion Act is a popular and broadly supported and reasonable safeguard that allows parents to properly exercise responsibility for the care of their children.”

The measure passed out of the committee on a partisan 9-6 vote. It now goes to the full House where it will need 60 votes to pass and be sent to Pritzker. It could take effect June 1, 2022 at the earliest.

This story will be updated.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

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