For almost every medical procedure a minor girl gets — from teeth cleanings to eye exams to regular doctor visits to taking aspirin at school — a parent needs to be notified.
For almost every medical procedure a minor girl gets — from teeth cleanings to eye exams to regular doctor visits to taking aspirin at school — a parent needs to be notified. Abortion has been the exception in Illinois.
That will change Aug. 4 if there are no more legal delays. We support parental notification.
A three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled Illinois’ Parental Notice of Abortion Act could be enforced. The act, passed in 1995, requires that a doctor inform a parent, grandparent or legal guardian at least 48 hours before a minor receives an abortion. The act allows for exceptions. A judge can waive notification if there is evidence of physical or sexual abuse. The judge must rule within 48 hours whether to grant a waiver. If a judge refuses, the minor can appeal.
Our children have very few rights that escape the purview of parents. We don’t let our minor children drive anywhere without our knowledge. We won’t let them see an R-rated movie on their own.
Why would we think it’s OK for girls to get an abortion without our knowing?
If we decided notification was not required, what would happen if a minor girl had a legal abortion, without parental knowledge, and something went wrong? Who would be responsible? The doctor? The girl? The parents who knew nothing about it?
That doesn’t mean we believe the option of abortion should be denied to underage girls, but we believe they should not go through this alone. The law calls for notification, not consent.
Abortion is a surgical procedure, one with physical and emotional ramifications. We would not deny a parent’s role in any other area of a child’s health care. We should not deny parents a role in such a life-altering decision.
Illinois joins at least 41 states that have some kind of parental notification, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which studies reproductive health. Twenty-two states require at least one parent’s consent, 10 require prior notification of at least one parent, two states require notification and consent. Seven other states have parental notification laws tied up in court.
Neighboring states have had parental notification laws for years, which has made Illinois the place to go for young women who want an abortion without their parents’ knowledge.
In 1997, more than 4,500 minors crossed the state line to get an abortion in Illinois, bypassing state law and bypassing the moral authority of their parents. That’s the latest record available, but we believe it’s a relevant number because abortions tend to be underreported.
Since 1995, more than 50,000 Illinois minors have had abortions, according to the Thomas More Society, which took a lead role in the ruling to get the law enforced. According to the society’s Web site, more than 4,000 girls were age 14 or younger.
Abortion-rights activists worry that parental notification will discourage teenagers with abusive or neglectful parents from seeking an abortion. Responsible parents should not lose the right to help their children make important decisions because other parents are neglecting their role.
Studies have shown that abortion rates were unaffected by parental notification laws and about 60 percent of teens inform their parents.
Illinois has been trying to get parental notification for more than 30 years. There was a provision for parental notification in a 1977 law, but it was struck down by a judge. The General Assembly revived the issue by calling for notification in 1983. It was vetoed by Gov. Jim Thompson, but the Legislature overrode his veto. However, a federal court struck down the law and issued an injunction banning enforcement.
The 1995 act was supposed to take care of all the judicial concerns, but it, too, has been tied up in court. In 2006, the Illinois Supreme Court issued rules that were needed to enforce the act. That was stalled until the July 14 ruling.
We would like to think that teens in trouble would turn to their parents for help and advice. We know many teens would be frightened by how their parents might react, but we support parental notification because the rights of the family should be respected above all.
Rockford Register Star