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Supreme Court of the United States

In Illinois, a Long-Overdue Victory for Life and Women’s Health

October 17, 2017

When it comes to the risks our current legal culture poses to your family, sometimes one state tells a lot of the story.

The Illinois Department of Public Health estimates that 37,922 women in their state had abortions in 2011, and that just over 16 percent – more than 6,000 – of those were girls under 18 years of age. That ongoing tragedy has been complicated for many years by the fact that Illinois is the only state in the Midwest that doesn’t require those thousands of underage girls to notify their parents they were having an abortion.

Illinois lawmakers tried to head off those horrifying numbers back in 1983 by passing a parental notification act that would have required doctors to alert the parents of pregnant girls 17-or-under no later than 48 hours before aborting their unborn babies. Parents would then have to sign a form authorizing the abortion, with the understanding that the form would become a permanent part of their daughter’s medical record … or had the opportunity to intervene and provide crucial, even life-saving counsel to their child. (The law allowed court-approved exceptions as required by the Supreme Court.)

The law, though, never took effect.  First, a group of abortionists filed a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality; a court found in favor of the abortionists. The Illinois legislature tried again in 1995, only to be challenged again – this time by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which along with Planned Parenthood has made it a regular practice to oppose and blockade similar parental notification laws in other states coast to coast.

For 17 years now, this second case has made its glacier-like way through the Illinois legal system, finally landing this year on the docket of the state’s Supreme Court, where Alliance Defending Freedom staff and allied attorneys (special thanks to the Chicago legal firm of Mauck & Baker) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the state legislation. On July 10, the court ruled unanimously to dismiss the ACLU lawsuit. Now, barring an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the law will finally – finally – go into effect on August 14.

“The well-being of young women is more important than the bottom line of abortionists,” says Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Casey Mattox. “All this law has sought to do since 1995 is to uphold the duty and desire of parents to protect their own children rather than allow them to be taken advantage of by others.”

In the words of the court, Mattox says, “the law constitutionally encourages ‘an unmarried, pregnant minor to seek the help and advice of a parent or other adult family member in making the very important decision whether or not to bear or take the life of a child.’ The ACLU kept this law from protecting women for more than 17 years, but that is now over.”

Illinois now becomes the 39th state to require parents to be notified if their underage daughter is scheduled to have an abortion – an answer to the prayers of nearly two decades, and a testimony to the tireless persistence of our attorneys and our allies as they work diligently, unswervingly to protect life and freedom and families like yours all over America. Please join us as we pray for grace and wisdom to continue fighting these crucial fights in other states all over the country.

Alliance Defending Freedom

Alliance Defending Freedom

Non-profit organization

Alliance Defending Freedom advocates for your right to freely live out your faith

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