State Senate passes repeal of long-stalled abortion parental notification law, sends to House

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State Sen. Emil Jones III, D-Chicago, left, speaks with state Sen. Elgie Sims Jr., D-Chicago, right, on the floor of the Senate in May.
State Sen. Emil Jones III, D-Chicago, left, speaks with state Sen. Elgie Sims Jr., D-Chicago, right, on the floor of the Senate in May. | Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP file

Along with repealing the parental notice law, the measure also creates the Youth Health and Safety Act, which establishes a working group to ensure “full and equitable access to reproductive health care for all persons” statewide regardless of such factors as race or ethnicity, immigration status, age, education level or economic means.

Illinois moved closer on Tuesday to no longer requiring a parent or other adult family member to be notified before a minor child receives an abortion, as the state Senate approved overturning a 26-year-old law that took nearly two decades to go into effect.

State Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, said the repeal of the Parental Notice of Abortion Act and the creation of the youth health and safety working group is a “necessary proposal to move our state forward to protect our young people — often those who cannot protect themselves.”

But one downstate Republican called the measure a slap in the face to families, arguing “this body is being used to take away the rights of parents.”

Along with repealing the parental notice law, the measure Sims sponsored also creates the Youth Health and Safety Act, which establishes the working group to ensure “full and equitable access to reproductive health care for all persons” statewide regardless of such factors as race or ethnicity, immigration status, age, education level or economic means.

The group will be tasked with identifying laws and regulations that impact, or may impact, pregnant and parenting youth and to provide information and resources on topics related to healthcare.

The Legislature passed the Parental Notice of Abortion Act in 1995, but it didn’t go into effect until 2013 due to legal challenges. It requires a doctor providing care to a young person under age 18 who is seeking an abortion in the state to notify a designated adult family member — which could be a parent, grandparent, a step-parent living in the home or a legal guardian — at least 48 hours before the procedure.

State Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, speaks at a committee hearing in 2018.
John O’Connor/AP file
State Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, speaks at a committee hearing in 2018.

The minor has the option of going to court to ask a judge for a waiver so they can have the procedure without family involvement in a process known as “judicial bypass.”

Under that provision, the person seeking an abortion has to give testimony, explain the circumstances of the pregnancy and give other details, such as who they spoke to during their decision-making process.

Republicans argued that repealing the measure would be an infringement on parents’ rights.

State Sen. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, said “it’s our job to try to not create more boundaries and barriers in the family unit.”

State Sen. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, said “time and time again” Gov. J.B. Pritzker “has spit in the face spaces of the families of this state.

“He’s shown his total and complete disregard for the rights of the family unit, and now he’s at it again, but he’s using this body — I almost use the word minions when I was putting some notes together for this, but I don’t think we’re minions of anybody — I think we are clear thinkers, and we’re able to decide for ourselves, but this body is being used to take away the rights of parents,” Bryant said.

The Murphysboro Republican went on to say the working group created by the legislation is “smoke and mirrors” and also raised concerns that repealing the act would lead to a rise in girls being sex trafficked.

State Sen. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, speaks on the floor of the Illinois Senate in September.
Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP file
State Sen. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, speaks on the floor of the Illinois Senate in September.

Sims said experts in human trafficking have denied that link exists and called it a “myth.”

Sims urged his colleagues to “disassociate” their thinking on the measure from their relationship with their own children, because the legislation is directed at young people who “do not have the very strong relationships I’m sure that all of us have in this chamber with our children.”

“Those are not the young people that we are trying to protect,” Sims said. “We are trying to protect those who cannot stand up for themselves, those who cannot turn to a trusted adult and say ‘I am in trouble, I need guidance,’ but also that’s why we have the working group that allows for the establishment … of those resources so … that young person will have access and, more specifically, their parents will have access to those resources that will help them to make those decisions as a family.”

The legislation passed the Senate 32 to 22, with five members not voting. It now heads to the House.

Pritzker has previously voiced support for repealing the law.

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October 26, 2021 at 10:10PM

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