SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (BP) – The Illinois General Assembly removed what was essentially the last effective means of regulating abortion in the state when it repealed the Parental Notice Act. Efforts to repeal the requirement failed in the spring legislative session, but it was brought back on short notice in the fall veto session. House Bill 370 (HB 370), the Youth Health and Safety Act, passed in the House by a vote of 62-51 Oct. 27 after being approved in the Senate by 32-22 the day before. Gov. J.B. Pritzker supported the repeal and expressed his intentions to sign it into law.
Current state law, passed in 1995, requires women under the age of 18 to notify a parent, legal guardian or grandparent at least 48 hours prior to an abortion. It does not require permission, only notification. According to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, 37 other states have some type of parental notice law in place.
Illinois Right to Life hosted a rally outside the State Capitol Oct. 26, hoping to persuade members of the General Assembly to vote against HB 370. They held placards reading “Hands Off Parental Notice.”
Gov. Pritzker released a written statement of support following the bill’s passage. “At a time when reproductive rights are under attack across the country, Illinois is protecting those critical reproductive rights,” Pritzker said. “This repeal was essential, because it was the most vulnerable pregnant minors who were being hurt most by this law: victims of rape, incest and physical abuse.”
Opponents of the bill say it will do the opposite by enabling abuse. Amy Gehrke, spokesperson for Illinois Right to Life Action, expressed concern for the “rights of parents or the health and safety of minor girls” including those “at the mercy of human traffickers and sexual predators.”
Illinois Parents for the Protection of Girls hosted a virtual gathering last spring with human trafficking survivor Brooke Bello and expert Laura Lederer. Nine-in-ten trafficking survivors reported having contact with a health care provider, according to Lederer, with 71 percent saying they got pregnant at least once while being trafficked. In addition, 55 percent reported having at least one abortion with 30 percent undergoing multiple abortions.
Bello testified she was raped at the age of 11, trafficked at 15, and forced to undergo multiple abortions by her trafficker. “Had my parents been notified, my mother would have [known] what city I was near.” She believes law enforcement could have been alerted, and she may have been rescued sooner.
Gehrke condemned the bill’s passage. “In Illinois, minor girls cannot get a body piercing, a tattoo, or even receive an aspirin without parental consent. Enabling children to have abortions without their parents’ involvement is simply appalling.”
Once signed, the repeal will take effect June 1.
Nationally, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Nov. 1 against the new Texas law limiting abortions to the first six weeks of pregnancy. The high court will hear arguments in December on a Mississippi case that some believe could overturn Roe v. Wade. Decisions in both cases will be released by the summer.