SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Senate voted Tuesday to repeal a law requiring that parents or guardians be notified when girls younger than 18 are seeking an abortion.
Building on momentum among abortion-rights activists after September’s Texas “heartbeat” law banned most abortions, Democrats who control the General Assembly want to dump the 1995 law requiring notification, which both sides of the debate call the last restriction on abortions in Illinois.
But with a 32-22 tally in favor of repeal, the count fell short of approval of all who make up the Democrats’ 41-18 advantage, showing the reticence among moderate Democrats on a law whose proposed repeal now moves to the House with two days left in the General Assembly’s fall session.
Republicans repeatedly point out that notification has the support of nearly three-quarters of Illinoisans responding to a poll conducted last spring. And they publicized the nearly 50,000 notices of opposition to the legislation that were filed electronically before the vote.
“It’s the most basic human relationship that we know and it is a precious bond for a lifetime, most critical during a young girl’s, a minor’s, formative years …” said Republican Sen. Jil Tracy of Quincy. “We have enough problems in the state without creating more wedges between children and their parents.”
Pro-notice advocates note that the 48-hour alert to a parent or guardian the law requires involves only notification, not consent. According to the Guttmacher Institute, of 38 states requiring parental involvement in a minor’s abortion decision, 21 require parental consent — in three of those, both parents must consent.
Opponents say the notification law, adopted by Republican majorities in 1995 but not in effect until 2013 because of legal challenges, is a means of denying abortion rights to teenagers by delaying the procedure. They say most teen girls have good relationships with their parents but notification is a hindrance to those who live in abusive environments and are intimidated by an alternative process — pleading their case to a judge. Only one judge since 2013 has denied a minor’s abortion, however.
“One of the most detrimental laws that are currently on our books impacting young women is parental notification of abortion,” said Sen. Elgie Sims, the Chicago Democratic sponsor. He amended the legislation before the vote to add creation of a task force to create wide-ranging resources and services to help young girls who are pregnant and families to build stronger relationships.
Sims said in conversations with his daughters and his daughters’ friends about the legislation, “I asked them, ‘What do you think about it?’ Those young women to a person said to me, ‘I have my own mind, let me decide.’ I think that is a very powerful statement.”