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Controversial Abortion Notification Law Starts Tomorrow

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Nov 2, 2009 3:00PM

Tomorrow, the controversial law that requires physicians to notify the parents or guardians of girls 17 years old or younger who seek abortions will go into effect. Unlike in many other states, however, in Illinois parental consent is not required. There are ways around the notification: in the case of medical emergency or if the girl puts in writing that the pregnancy was a result of sexual assault, she may bypass the notification. A teen can also request a bypass of notification by appearing before a judge who would have 48 hours to rule. The ACLU of Illinois has set up a website designed to help guide girls through the bypass process. The law was actually passed in 1984 and updated in 1995, but that update was placed under a federal injunction which was lifted this summer by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Tribune explains what the typical process would be:

For many local clinics, including those run by Planned Parenthood, staff will try to reach a parent or guardian by phone if the teenager requesting the procedure is younger than 18 and has not brought in a signed form.

"We will not leave a message," said Beth Kanter, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Illinois.

Kanter said that if a staff member has not made contact after two phone attempts, he or she will send a letter by certified mail.

After 48 hours has passed, Kanter said, "the assumption is, by the courts, notice has been given," and the teen can have the procedure.

Opponents of the law are worried that it will force teen girls to possibly seek unsafe ways to terminate their pregnancy or will force them to carry the pregnancy to term while opponents insist that parents should be involved in the situation. According to the Trib, the Guttmacher Institute reported that in 2000, 4,640 abortions were performed in Illinois for girls between the ages of 15 and 17 years.