Springfield, Illinois. On Tuesday, the Illinois Senate voted to repeal a law requiring parents or guardians to be notified when girls under 18 wish to have an abortion.
Gaining traction among abortion rights activists after Texas’ September Heartbeat Act banned most abortions, Democrats overseeing the General Assembly are looking to abandon the 1995 Notice Act, which both sides in the debate call the latest abortion restriction in Illinois.
But with a 32-22 tally in favor of repeal, the tally has not garnered the approval of all 41-18 Democrats in favor, demonstrating moderate Democratic restraint on the law, the proposed repeal of which is now moving to the House of Representatives with two days left before the fall session of the General Assembly.
Republicans have repeatedly noted that the notice received support from nearly three quarters of Illinois residents who responded to a poll conducted last spring. And they published nearly 50,000 notices of disagreement with the law, which were filed electronically before the vote.
“This is the most basic human relationship we know, and it is a precious lifelong bond, most important in the formative years of a young girl, a minor …” said Republican Senator Jill Tracy of Quincy. “We have enough problems in the state not to create more blades between children and their parents.”
Advocates of advance notice point out that the 48 hours notice required by law from a parent or guardian includes only notice, not consent. According to the Guttmacher Institute, of the 38 states that require parental involvement in minor abortion decisions, 21 require parental consent – three of which require both parents to agree.
Opponents argue that the notification law, passed by the Republican majority in 1995 but not in effect until 2013 due to legal problems, is a means of denying adolescents the right to abortion by postponing the procedure. They say most adolescent girls have good relationships with their parents, but notification is an obstacle for those living in abusive conditions and intimidated by an alternative process – going to court before a judge. However, only one judge has refused an abortion to a minor since 2013.
“One of the most pernicious laws currently in our books affecting young women is parental abortion notice,” said Sen. Algie Sims, a Chicago Democratic sponsor. He amended legislation ahead of the vote, adding the creation of a task force to create a variety of resources and services to help young girls who are pregnant and families to build stronger relationships.
Sims said in conversations with his daughters and friends of his daughters about legislation, “I asked them, ‘What do you think about this?’ These young women told me to one person: “I have my own mind, let me decide.” I think this is a very strong statement. “