Illinois is showing the way to the country on reproductive rights.
With more than 100 state-enacted abortion restrictions, 2021 has been a record-setting year for anti-choicers. This is more the reason why we should applaud the states that are upholding and expanding abortion rights, such as Illinois.
On Oct. 26, lawmakers in Illinois gave final approval to revoke a law that requires parents or guardians be notified when their underage child seeks an abortion. This means teenagers under 18 may receive an abortion without parental consent notification. The repeal is now headed to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk, and he is expected to approve it. This is an important move for reproductive rights in Illinois, since parental notification was one of the last barriers to abortion access in the state.
The majority of states require the consent or notification of at least one parent or guardian, usually 24 to 48 hours before the procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Most of these state’s requirements include a judicial bypass procedure so that minors can receive court approval for an abortion without their parents’ knowledge. As one can imagine, this is a cumbersome process in an already fraught situation.
Parental consent and notification laws are unnecessary and potentially harmful. The American Civil Liberties Union has advocated for repealing laws that restrict teenagers’ access to abortion. According to research, 90 percent of minors under 15 years old involve a parent or a trusted adult in their decision. The minority of teens who do not do this have justifiable reasons, including fear of abuse, retaliation or of being kicked out of the house. Particularly if a teenager’s parents are religious and feverently anti-abortion, this can be very damaging.
In fact, research shows that mandating parental involvement can not only prevent teens from receiving the abortion that they want, but also can lead to physical, emotional, educational, economic and social distress. Major medical organizations agree that parental involvement laws related to abortion risk the health and safety of teens. These groups include the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Adolescent Medicine, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Public Health Association.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation applauds the lawmakers of Illinois for expanding abortion access and care, particularly during a period in which abortion rights are being decimated. Let’s hope that other states follow Illinois’ lead.